Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is marked by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events for no obvious reason. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school.
GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more symptoms. This differentiates GAD from worry that may be specific to a set stressor or for a more limited period.
What Are the Symptoms of GAD?
Generalized anxiety disorder GAD affects the way a person thinks, and it can lead to physical symptoms. Mental health professionals use a standard set of criteria to diagnose GAD. Those symptoms can’t be caused by a medical problem or other condition and last at least 6 months. Those criteria include:
Excessive, ongoing worry and tension
Unrealistic view of problems
Restlessness or a feeling of being “edgy”
Tiring easily or being fatigued
Increased crankiness or irritability
Muscle tension or muscle aches and soreness
How Is GAD Diagnosed?
If you have symptoms of GAD, your doctor will begin an evaluation by asking questions about your medical and psychiatric history. You may also get a physical exam. Lab tests don’t diagnose anxiety disorders, but some can help doctors check for any physical illness that might be causing the symptoms.
There are several medication choices for GAD, usually, relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, exercise, and other alternative treatments may also become part of a treatment plan.
Other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse often accompany GAD, which rarely occurs alone; co-occurring conditions must also be treated with appropriate therapies.