generalized anxiety disorder
(GAD) can be difficult, since the distinction between normal
and GAD is not always apparent. Diagnosis is based on a physical exam, psychological evaluation, and the criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(DSM-5). The symptoms of GAD must be present for at least 6 months and cause impairment in your ability to function.
After obtaining your medical history, you may be asked about worries, anxiety, “nerves,” stress, and other symptoms. Your doctor may ask whether your anxiety is acute (brief or intermittent) or chronic (persistent).
Acute anxiety lasts from hours to weeks and usually occurs in response to a particular stressor. Persistent anxiety lasts from months to years and may be considered a part of your temperament. Persistent anxiety does not normally occur in response to stress. In susceptible people, though, stress may increase levels of persistent anxiety.
Use or withdrawal from addictive substances can cause anxiety. Your healthcare provider may ask about your use of
, addictive medications (particularly sedatives),
, and other substances.
Ballenger JC, Davidson JR, Lecrubier Y, et al. Consensus statement on generalized anxiety disorder from the International consensus Group on Depression and Anxiety.
J Clin Psychiatry.
2001;62 Suppl 11:53-58.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
Flint AJ. Generalised anxiety disorder in elderly patients: epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment options.
Generalized anxiety disorder. American Academy of Family Physicians
Family Doctor website. Available at:
Updated March 2014. Accessed June 13, 2016.
Generalized anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 1, 2016. Accessed June 13, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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