Generalized Anxiety Disorder

(GAD)

Definition

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder marked by chronic, exaggerated worrying and anxiety about everyday life. The worry is so severe that it interferes with a person's ability to live his or her life.

Causes

GAD may be caused by:
  • An abnormal neurotransmitter system
  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors
  • Developmental factors
  • Psychological factors

Risk Factors

GAD is nearly twice as common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of GAD include:
  • Family members with an anxiety disorder
  • Increase in stress
  • Exposure to physical or emotional trauma
  • Unemployment, poverty
  • Drug abuse
  • Medical condition or disability
  • History of self-harm as a teenager, with or without suicidal intent

Symptoms

Symptoms of GAD usually develop slowly. People with GAD often have both psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety.Psychological symptoms include:
  • Excessive ongoing worrying and tension
  • Feeling tense or edgy
  • Irritability, overly stressed
  • Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness
Physical symptoms may include:
  • Muscle tension
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trembling
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Choking sensation
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling
Symptoms of Anxiety
Physiological effects of anxiety
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
People with GAD often have other anxiety disorders, depression, and/or substance use disorders.

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