Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things are the hallmark of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, typically referred to as GAD.

Individuals with GAD spend much time anticipating disaster, and worrying in a disproportionate manner about health, money, family, or work. At times the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint.

Typically GAD is mild, so people don’t feel too limited in social settings or at work. People do not usually avoid situations which is common in most of the other anxiety disorders. However, GAD can be severe enough, making it difficult to for those suffer from GAD to carry out even the most ordinary daily activities.


The DSM-5 criteria for GAD are:

1) The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least 6 months, and is clearly excessive.

Excessive worry means worrying even when there is nothing wrong, or in a manner that is disproportionate to actual risk. This typically involves spending a high percentage of waking hours worrying about something. The worry may be accompanied by reassurance-seeking from others.

In adults, the worry can be about job responsibilities or performance, one’s own health or the health of family members, financial matters, and other every day, typical life circumstances.

*In children, the worry is more likely to be about their abilities or the quality of their performance (i.e. school)*

2) The worry is experienced as very challenging to control.

Worry in both adults and children may shift from one topic to another.

3) The anxiety and worry is associated with at least 3 of the following physical or cognitive symptoms (In children, only 1 symptom is necessary for a diagnosis of GAD.):

  • Edginess or restlessness.

  • Tiring easily; more fatigued than usual.

  • Impaired concentration or feeling as though the mind goes blank.

  • Irritability (which may or may not be observable to others).

  • Increased muscle aches or soreness.

  • Difficulty sleeping (due to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness at night, or unsatisfying sleep).

Many individuals with GAD also experience symptoms such as sweating, nausea or diarrhea (more anxiety related symptoms).

4) The anxiety, worry, or associated symptoms make it hard to carry out day-to-day activities and responsibilities. They may cause problems in relationships, at work, or in other important areas.

5) These symptoms are unrelated to any other medical conditions and cannot be explained by the effect of substances including a prescription medication, alcohol or recreational drugs.

6) These symptoms are not better explained by a different mental disorder.

Do you think that you or someone you know are suffering from GAD?

Complete the following quiz: Free Generalized Anxiety Disorder Test