Generalized Anxiety Disorder

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental disorders. Up to 20% of adults are affected by anxiety disorders each year. Generalized anxiety disorder produces fear, worry, and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. This worry could be multifocal such as finance, family, health, and the future. It is excessive, difficult to control, and is often accompanied by many non-specific psychological and physical symptoms. Excessive worry is the central feature of generalized anxiety disorder.

Diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) include the following:

  1. Excessive anxiety and worry for at least six months

  2. Difficulty controlling the worrying.

  3. The anxiety is associated with three or more of the below symptoms for at least 6 months:

  1. Restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge

  2. Being easily fatigued

  3. Difficulty in concentrating or mind going blank, irritability

  4. Muscle tension

  5. Sleep disturbance

  6. Irritability

  1. The anxiety results in significant distress or impairment in social and occupational areas

  2. The anxiety is not attributable to any physical cause

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