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Generalized anxiety disorder
People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) go through the day filled with worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to cause it. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least six months. It affects about 6.8 million adult Americans and about twice as many women as men.
Symptoms of GAD include:
- Unable to relax
- Startle easily
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Muscle tension
- Muscle aches
- Difficulty swallowing
- Having to go to the bathroom frequently
- Feeling out of breath
- Hot flashes
If you think you have an anxiety disorder such as GAD, the first person you should see is your family doctor. A physician can determine whether the symptoms that alarm you are due to an anxiety disorder, another medical condition, or both.
Early treatment can help keep the disease from progressing to its later stages, and people can learn effective ways to live with this disorder. Treatment options include:
- Cognitive therapy (to change or get rid of destructive thought patterns)
- Behavioral therapy (to change a person's behavior)
- A combination of these treatments
Explore other publications and websites
Anxiety (Copyright © The AGS Foundation for Healthy Aging) — This fact sheet discusses the symptoms of anxiety, the types of anxiety disorders, and diagnosis and treatment. It is written for the elderly population.
Anxiety Disorders — This publication provides information about the different anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and social phobia, among others.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) — This website provides general information about the signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment of generalized anxiety disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) — This website provides information on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), including its signs and symptoms, treatment, and where to find help. It also links to publications about GAD from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (Copyright © Anxiety Disorders Association of America) — This fact sheet explains the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and how you can treat it. It also links to a self-test so you can see if you are at risk of having GAD.
Screening for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (Copyright © Anxiety Disorders Association of America) — Take this simple yes-or-no self-test, then bring the results to your doctor. Your answers to these questions can help your doctor determine whether your symptoms indicate generalized anxiety disorder.
When Worry Gets Out of Control: Generalized Anxiety Disorder — This easy-to-read booklet explains what generalized anxiety disorder is, when it starts, how long it lasts, what the symptoms are, and how to get help.
Connect with other organizations
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
Freedom From Fear
Mental Health America
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS
The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging
Content last updated March 29, 2010.
Resources last updated March 29, 2010.
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