Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic state of severe worry and tension, often without provocation. Those with GAD regularly anticipate disaster, often worrying excessively about health, money, family, or work. Merely getting through the day brings on anxiety.
People with GAD can't shake their concerns, even though they usually realize that much of their anxiety is unwarranted. People with GAD may be unable to relax and often have trouble falling or staying asleep. Their worries are accompanied by physical symptoms such as trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating, hot flashes, and feeling lightheaded or out of breath.
Many individuals with GAD startle easily. They tend to feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and may suffer from depression. GAD may involve nausea, frequent trips to the bathroom, or feeling like there is a lump in the throat.
When their anxiety level is mild, people with GAD can function socially and hold down a job, but may have difficulty carrying out the simplest of daily activities if their anxiety is severe.
GAD affects about 6.8 million American adults; women are twice as likely as men to be afflicted. The disorder can begin at any point in the life cycle but usually develops between childhood and middle age. The prevalence of the diagnosis peaks in middle age and decreases across the later years of life.
Other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance use disorder often accompany GAD. GAD is commonly treated with medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy, but co-occurring conditions must also be treated using the appropriate therapies.