Generalized Anxiety Disorder

This disorder is characterized by stronger than warranted worry and tension caused by non-existance influences. The fears tend to focus on health, money, family, work or impending disaster. The GAD sufferer cannot simply release their fears despite their own recognition that there is no basis for the fear.

GAD usually develops gradually during adolescence, but can begin during early adulthood as well. It is far more common in women than men, and seems to frequently strike relatives of affected persons.

During the course of a year, 3% - 4% of the population in the United States will suffer from GAD.


GAD seems to run in families, although whether this is a genetic or environmental factor is unknown. Times of intense stress or worry may worsen the condition, though stress is not known as a specific trigger for the disorder.


Unlike many of the other Panic and Anxiety Disorders, those with GAD do not tend to feel socially restricted due to their condition, however when it is severe it can be debilitating.

Diagnosis and Treatment

GAD is usually diagnosed by a doctor when excessive worrying about every day concerns continues for six months or more.

Non-medical treatment usually includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques and the use of biofeedback to control muscle tension. These methods are used to attempt to alter specific actions and stop unwanted behaviors. In some cases the patient is taught breathing techniques to calm them. Exposure therapy is also used to familiarize the patient with specific stresses and worrisome events.

When medication is used, most commonly prescribed are the following:
  • buspirone
  • anti-depressants
  • benzodiazepines


The symptoms of GAD usually diminish with age, and with treatment the symptoms can usually be completely controlled, allowing for a fully normal life. Unfortunately, GAD often coexists with depression, substance abuse or other anxiety disorders which could hamper treatment.

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