Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder -- Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Casarella, MD on August 28, 2022
1 min read

The hallmark of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is excessive, out-of-control worrying about everyday things. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent fear, sometimes without any obvious cause, that is present everyday
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Muscle tension; muscle aches
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Insomnia or other sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Being easily fatigued

For school-age children, symptoms include:

  • Fear of being away from the family
  • Refusal to go to school
  • Fear of strangers
  • Fear of falling asleep or having recurrent nightmares
  • Unnecessary worry


  • Your anxiety seems irrational or more extreme than the situation warrants.
  • Your anxiety interferes with work or your social life.
  • Low-level anxiety persists for many weeks.
  • Your symptoms suddenly become severe or uncontrollable. You may be experiencing a panic attack.
  • Anxiety is accompanied by weight loss and bulging of the eyes; you may have a thyroid problem.