What is generalized anxiety disorder?
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.
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.
Many people with
generalized anxiety disorder also have other problems such as
depression, other anxiety illnesses (obsessive-compulsive disorder,
post-traumatic stress disorder, or
social anxiety disorder),
alcohol abuse, or personality disorder.
What causes generalized anxiety disorder?
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
- Having headaches or muscle aches.
a hard time swallowing.
- Feeling shaky, sweating, or having hot
- 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.
- Having problems
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.