Generalized anxiety disorder occurs when you feel worried and stressed
about many everyday events and activities. Often the things you are worried
about are small or not important. This type of worry disrupts your life most
days. Everyone gets worried or anxious sometimes. But people with generalized
anxiety disorder experience more than normal everyday worries.
Many people who have generalized anxiety disorder have physical symptoms,
such as headaches or being tired all the time.
A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (or OCD) may experience:
Excessive and irrational concern about contamination or serious illness
Too much concern with keeping everything arranged in an exact way
Intrusive thoughts or horrible mental images
Sexual or religious thoughts felt to be unacceptable
Excessive fear of your house burning or flooding, of causing a car wreck, of spreading an illness, of losing something, of being responsible for another person getting hurt or killed
Anyone can get
generalized anxiety disorder at any age. But it usually starts when you are a
child or teenager. Most people with generalized anxiety disorder have felt
nervous or anxious as long as they can remember. About 5% of people have
generalized anxiety disorder at some time.1 Women are
twice as likely as men to have the problem.
cause of generalized anxiety disorder is not known. Some studies show that it
might be passed through the family (genetic).
Some problems such
hyperthyroidism can cause generalized anxiety
Some medicines can cause worry and stress or make your
stress worse, such as medicines with amphetamines (Ritalin) or too much
caffeine. Illegal drugs such as cocaine can also cause these symptoms. Be sure
to talk with your doctor about any medicines you are taking.
What are the symptoms?
People who have
generalized anxiety disorder get worried and stressed about many things almost
every day. They have a hard time controlling their worry. Adults with this
problem often worry about money, family, health, or work. Children with this
problem often worry about how well they can do an activity, such as school or
You might also have physical symptoms, such as:
Feeling tired or irritable, or having a hard time
Feeling lightheaded, sick to your stomach, or out of
Having to go to the bathroom often.
like you can't relax, or being startled easily.
falling or staying asleep.
How is generalized anxiety disorder diagnosed?
To find out if you have this problem, your
doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and how long you have had them.
Your doctor will also do a
physical exam, ask questions about your medical
history, and ask questions about medicines you are taking. This information
helps your doctor find out whether you have any other condition.
To be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, you must have more
worry and stress than normal. You must feel worried and stressed about many
things almost every day. And these feelings must last for at least 6 months.
You will also have some physical symptoms. The worry, stress, and physical
symptoms might make it hard for you to do normal activities such as going to
work every day or doing grocery shopping.
If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, fill out a form(What is a PDF document?) to check your symptoms.