December 2, 2015
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Anxiety (cont.)

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What is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a mood disorder that is characterized by multiple and/or nonspecific worries. The fear associated with GAD interferes with the person's ability to sleep, think, or function in some other way. Symptoms of anxiety are even described in the word itself. Specifically, the word anxiety comes from the Latin word anxietas, which means to choke or upset. The symptoms therefore include emotional or behavioral symptoms as well as ways of thinking that are responses to feeling as if one is in danger.

What are the different types of anxiety?

Anxiety can range from the constructive kind that elevates performance as with mild performance anxiety, to disorders of anxiety, in that the individual suffers from a level of fear, angst, or dread that interferes with his or her ability to function. The most common anxiety disorders are specific phobias. Other anxiety disorders include separation anxiety disorder in children, selective mutism, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. While obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) used to be classified as an anxiety disorder, it is now grouped with other compulsive disorders, like hoarding and trichotillomania (hair pulling). Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been reclassified such that it is considered a trauma-related disorder instead of an anxiety disorder.

How common is generalized anxiety disorder?

GAD is quite common. In fact, it is the most common anxiety disorder seen by most primary-care doctors. About 5% of people will develop GAD over the course of their lifetime. That translates to millions of GAD sufferers. This illness usually begins when individuals are in their early 20s. Panic and generalized anxiety occur in about 0.7% of children in any one-year period and up to 20% over the course of childhood.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/5/2014


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