Psych M.D. - Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Term: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Definition (Myers):
an anxiety disorder in which a person is continually tense, apprehensive, and in a state of autonomic nervous system arousal.

Definition (alternative):

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to provoke it. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety.GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months. People with GAD can’t seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Physical symptoms that often accompany the anxiety include fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes

(This definition is from

Contextual explanation:

The symptoms of this disorder is relative similar from person to person, but their persistence is not.

Of the 6.8 million people who are affected by this disorder, 2/3 of them are women which is nearly twice as many as men.

People affected by this disorder are always tense and stressed that bad things may happen at any moment--they often get muscular tension, agitation, sleeplessness, furrowed brows, twitching of eyelids, trembles, perspiration, and fidgets. Concentration becomes very difficult as they worry continually.

What makes this disorder especially difficult to deal with is that the sufferer cannot identify the cause of the disorder, and cannot avoid or cure the heart of the problem.

The following are what sufferers of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder said about their condition:

“I always thought I was just a worrier. I’d feel keyed up and unable to relax. At times it would come and go, and at times it would be constant. It could go on for days. I’d worry about what I was going to fix for a dinner party, or what would be a great present for somebody. I just couldn’t let something go.”
“I’d have terrible sleeping problems. There were times I’d wake up wired in the middle of the night. I had trouble concentrating, even reading the newspaper or a novel. Sometimes I’d feel a little lightheaded. My heart would race or pound. And that would make me worry more. I was always imagining things were worse than they really were: when I got a stomachache, I’d think it was an ulcer.”

It can be easily seen from the quotes above how even things as little as what to cook for a dinner party or a stomachache could trigger anxiety as well as how the duration of anxiety could last from minutes to days.

Related terms and concepts:

anxiety disorders
panic disorder
obsessive-compulsive disorder

Related websites:

Edited by: Courteney

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