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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

(Also Known As: Panic Attack, Chronic Anxiety, Anxiety Disorder, Severe Anxiety Disorder Anxiety)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a condition where a person manifests excessive and irrational worry, which is often disproportionate to the actual source of the worry.1 Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by chronic anxiety, intense tension, and exaggerated worry even when there is nothing to provoke it. Oftentimes, Generalized Anxiety Disorder interferes in the person’s daily functions. The intense anxiety is due to the person’s anticipation of catastrophic events, disasters, or because he or she is overly concerned about matters involving health issues, family problems, death, money, work difficulties and friends which typically preoccupy them everyday.

The everyday worries and fears of a person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be so disturbing that they are unable to learn how to relax. They are often anxious over something without any reason and their anxiety attacks often take a physical toll, such as experiencing sleepless nights, body aches, and extreme exhaustion.

The main difference between Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a case of normal worrying is that Generalized Anxiety Disorder is disruptive and occurs more frequent than normal.2 One is able to control their worry blues when it occurs normally but with chronic anxiety, it results in a stressful situation where the person worries uncontrollably and their anxiety is often unreasonable. Individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder usually do not avoid social functions and the workplace; however they go on with their activities with periods of exaggerated worry and anxiety resulting in stress and extreme distress. The anxiety period is experienced everyday and the person worries about almost anything.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder also occurs in children, but the difference with its occurrence in adults is that children have the inability to recognize that their anxiety and worrying are disproportionate to the current situation. They need adults to help them sort through their symptoms. Adults affected with Generalized Anxiety Disorder are aware that their worry and anxiety are often beyond what the situation warrants, but they have difficulty getting rid of the anxiety anyway. Chronic anxiety occurs more often in women than in men and the risk of its occurrence is highest at childhood and middle age. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is always accompanied by other disorders such as depression and substance abuse. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder are also at risk of developing other medical illnesses, which further prolong the course of the disorder. Incorrectly self medicating the symptoms experienced by the person can further aggravate the anxiety and panic attacks of the person, and the constant worry and tension of a person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder can bring about insomnia, headache, irritable bowel movement, and bruxism, also known as teeth grinding.

Could You Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Panic Disorder – Panic Attack, Anxiety, Anticipatory Attacks
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Nightmares, Insomnia, Sexual Abuse, Irritation, Social Impairment, Problems with Memory and Concentration, Intrusive Memories, Hyper-Vigilance
Social Anxiety Disorder – Social Anxiety, Impaired Functional Ability, Chronic Fear of Being Humiliated in Public, Panic Attack