Background: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has undergone a series of substantial classificatory changes since its first inclusion in DSM-III. The majority of these revisions have been in response to its poor inter-rater reliability and concerns that it may lack diagnostic validity. This article provides options for the revision of the DSM-IV GAD criteria for DSM-V.
Method: First, searches were conducted to identify the evidence that previous DSM Work Groups relied upon when revising the DSM-III-R GAD and the overanxious disorder classifications. Second, the literature pertaining to the DSM-IV criteria for GAD was examined.
Conclusions: The review presents a number of options to be considered for DSM-V. One option is for GAD to be re-labeled in DSM-V as generalized worry disorder. This would reflect its hallmark feature. Proposed revisions would result in a disorder that is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry generalized to a number of events or activities for 3 months or more. Worry acts as a cognitive coping strategy that manifests in avoidant behaviors. The reliability and validity of the proposed changes could be investigated in DSM-V validity tests and field trials.