Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by constant, excessive worry and anxiety about everyday things, such as the health of family members or work/school performance. During the course of one’s GAD the focus of the anxiety may shift from one area to another. The duration, frequency, or level of anxiety is out of proportion with the likelihood or actual impact of the feared event. People with GAD have difficulty controlling their worry, and they often experience muscle tension, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, disturbed sleep, and fatigue, as well as other physical symptoms.

The reported prevalence of GAD is approximately 3-5%. Many individuals with GAD report having been nervous and anxious their whole lives. About half report onset in childhood or adolescence, but onset during adulthood is also common. Anxiety can continue throughout ones life, often fluctuating depending on stressors that may come up.

Anxiety in general has a tendency to run in families. Twin studies suggest that there may be genetic components to the development of GAD.