Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link
Quick Facts

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Feb 2021| Content last modified Feb 2021
Click here for the Professional Version
Get the full details

What is generalized anxiety disorder?

Anxiety is being worried or nervous. Anxiety is often normal. For example, many people are anxious when they're having money problems, trouble at work, or family difficulties. However, if you're anxious a lot of the time even when you aren't having problems or the problems aren't bad, then you have an anxiety disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder is when you're anxious or worried about a number of different things.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder is common, particularly in women

  • You feel anxious about a variety of issues, activities, and situations

  • You worry more than the situation requires

  • Medicines and therapy can help

What are the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder?

If you have generalized anxiety disorder, you:

  • Feel constantly worried or upset over many everyday things (such as family, work, or money)

  • Have a hard time controlling your worry

  • Feel worried or nervous most days for at least 6 months

You also have at least 3 of these symptoms:

  • Feeling keyed up or on edge

  • Easily get tired

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Tense muscles

  • Poor sleep

How can doctors tell if I have generalized anxiety disorder?

Doctors will ask about your anxiety and physical symptoms and do a physical exam. They may do a blood test to rule out other causes for your symptoms.

How do doctors treat generalized anxiety disorder?

Doctors treat generalized anxiety disorder with medicines and therapy sessions.

Medicines may include:

  • Antidepressants

  • Antianxiety medicines

A therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you learn to:

  • Recognize when your thinking is incorrect

  • Control your incorrect thinking

  • Change your behavior

  • Relaxation

  • Yoga

  • Meditation

  • Exercise

  • Biofeedback techniques

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read
Test your knowledge
People differ in their susceptibility to nosebleeds. Some people get them often, others rarely or never. Nosebleeds can be mild, with just a trickle of blood, or severe, with a strong stream of blood. From which of the following areas do nosebleeds usually originate?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID