Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by too much unrealistic anxiety about the aspects of life such as social relationships, financial matters, work issues, etc. 

Some people develop GAD as a child and may not see symptoms until they reach adulthood. Either way, living with GAD may last a long time and in many cases, occurs with other anxiety or mood disorders.

How common is GAD?

There are about four million Americans who suffer from chronic generalized anxiety disorder symptoms. GAD often begins during childhood or adolescence but may also start in adulthood. Women are more likely to develop GAD compared to men.

How is GAD diagnosed?

When symptoms of GAD are present, healthcare providers will evaluate by asking questions about one’s medical and psychiatric history; your physician may also require you to undergo a physical examination. 

Healthcare providers base the diagnoses on reports of the intensity of the symptoms which also includes any problems that are related to functioning caused by the symptoms. Doctors determine the degree of dysfunction and indicate a specific anxiety disorder. 

Symptoms for GAD may include:

  • Constant worrying or obsessing about a particular concern that is either big or small.

  • Not being able to let go of worry.

  • Restlessness, and feeling on edge all the time

  • Excessive worry

  • Fear of making the wrong decisions or getting distressed about decision making

  • Exaggerated anxiety about everyday life for no reason. A person with GAD always tends to think that disaster is going to happen anytime soon.

  • Physical signs and symptoms:

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle tension or muscle aches

  • Irritability

  • Trembling, feeling twitchy

  • Easily startled

  • Difficulty in sleeping

  • Nausea, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS

  • Headaches