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Teen Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder, and affects
about 5% of Americans over the course of their lifetimes. It is characterized
by the following:
- A more-or-less constant state of worry and anxiety, which is out of proportion
to the level of actual stress or threat in their lives.
- This state occurs on most days for more than six months despite the lack
of an obvious or specific stressor. (It worsens with stress, however.)
- It is very difficult to control worry. For a clear diagnosis of GAD, the
specific worries should be differentiated from those that would define other
anxiety disorders, such as fear of panic attacks or appearing in public, nor
are they obsessive as in obsessive-compulsive disorder. (It should be noted,
however, that over half of those with GAD also have another anxiety disorder
- Patients may experience anxiety physically (such as with gastrointestinal
complaints) in addition to, or even in place of, mental worries. (This latter
case may be more common in people from non-Western cultures such as those
with Asian backgrounds.)
- People with GAD tend to be unsure of themselves and overly perfectionist
Given these conditions, a diagnosis of GAD is then confirmed if three or more
of the following symptoms are present (only one for children) on most days for
- Being on edge or very restless.
- Feeling tired.
- Having difficulty concentrating.
- Being irritable.
- Having muscle tension.
- Experiencing sleep disturbances.
Symptoms should cause significant distress and impair normal functioning and not
be due to a medical condition or to another mood disorder or psychosis. People
with GAD may be likely to experience bouts of depression between episodes of anxiety.