Mental health articles

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What is generalized anxiety disorder and definition for generalized anxiety disorder

What is generalized anxiety disorder? DSM-IV-TR defines generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as excessive or ongoing anxiety and worry, occurring on more days than not, over a period of at least six months. In addition:

The person finds it difficult to control the worry.

The anxiety and worry are regularly associated with three or more of the following:

restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge

being easily fatigued

difficulty concentrating or mind going blank


muscle tension

sleep disturbance.

The anxiety, worry or physical symptoms cause significant distress or impairment.

The worries reported by people with generalized anxiety disorder usually involve relatively minor, everyday, matters. Nevertheless, they find both their worries difficult to control and the extent to which they worry distressing. Between 1 and 5 per cent of the population will be experiencing generalized anxiety disorder at any one time. Rates are highest among women, middle-aged people, people living alone, and of low income. generalized anxiety disorder usually begins in childhood or adolescence. Once established, it tends to be a chronic disorder: up to 80 per cent of people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder report having been worried or anxious all their lives. It has high levels of co-morbidity with mood and somatoform disorders.

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