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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

by John H. Greist, MD

Generalized anxiety disorder consists of excessive, usually daily nervousness and worry (lasting 6 months or longer) about many activities or events.

  • People are anxious and worried about a variety of issues and/or activities.

  • For this disorder to be diagnosed, several other symptoms (such as a tendency to tire easily, difficulty concentrating, and muscle tension) must accompany the anxiety.

  • Treatment involves a combination of drugs (usually antianxiety drugs and sometimes antidepressants) and psychotherapy.

Generalized anxiety disorder is common. About 3% of adults have it during any 12-month period. Women are twice as likely as men to have the disorder. It often begins in childhood or adolescence (see Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children) but may start at any age. For most people, the disorder fluctuates, worsening at times (especially during times of stress), and persists over many years.

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