• Fact Sheet: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mood disorder characterized by chronic anxiety and persistent, exaggerated worry about everyday things. The intensity, frequency, and duration of the worry seem irrational and disproportionate to the issue in question and interfere with the quality of life of the individual. The person will sometimes fear that there is no way out of the cycle of anxiety and worry, which can lead to depression and associated problems.

    The fear and worry associated with GAD is very strong and mood fluctuations are common. For some, moods change from one day to the next, for others, moods can swing from one hour to the next. The ruminating, negative feelings feed on themselves and reinforce a pattern of worry and anxiety that can include physical symptoms.

    Generalized anxiety disorder responds well to treatment and can include medication and/or psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, wherein the individual learns to change perceptions and responses to situations and thoughts, has proven to be an effective treatment approach.

    Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder

    may include:

    • Excessive irritability
    • Restlessness and inability to calm down
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle tension
    • Trembling
    • Exaggerated startled response
    • Poor concentration
    • Distractibility
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Extreme self-consciousness
    • Nausea and gastrointestinal problems
    • Headaches

    Additional information about generalized anxiety disorder may be found on our Web-based Resources page.