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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

While everyone worries from time to time—about finances, work, health or family matters—for individuals with generalized anxiety disorder, the worry is excessive, ongoing, difficult to control and interfering with daily life. 

Anxiety, worry or physical symptoms cause significant distress in social, work or other areas of life—and can persist for six months or longer, reinforcing feelings of helplessness and stress. Worries can shift from one concern to another and may change with time and age. Sometimes there’s anxiety even when worries are not completely consuming, or there’s no apparent reason.

Both children and adults can develop generalized anxiety disorder and are more likely to develop additional anxiety disorders and depression. Living with GAD can be a long-term challenge, especially if it occurs with other anxiety or mood disorders.

GAD Symptoms

Emotional and behavioral symptoms may include:

    • Persistent worrying out of proportion to the situation or event, such as experiencing intense worry about a loved one’s safety 
    • Perceiving normal events as threatening, or sensing something bad is about to happen
    • Being afraid of making the wrong decision or overthinking plans and solutions to worst-case outcomes
    • Difficulty handling uncertainty or not being able to let go of a worry

Physical signs and symptoms may include: 

    • Inability to relax or feeling keyed up or on edge 
    • Irritability, difficulty concentrating or restlessness
    • Fatigue or trouble sleeping
    • Muscle aches, soreness or tension
    • Trembling, feeling twitchy
    • Nervousness or being easily startled
    • Sweating
    • Stomachaches or irritable bowel syndrome

GAD in Children & Teens

In addition to those mentioned above, children and teenagers may have excessive worries about:

    • Performance at school or sporting events
    • Family members’ safety
    • Being on time
    • Mass gun shootings, climate change or other catastrophic events

A child or teen with excessive worry may:

    • Feel overly anxious to fit in and strive for approval
    • Be a perfectionist or spend excessive time doing homework
    • Redo tasks that aren’t perfect the first time
    • Lack confidence
    • Require a lot of reassurance about performance
    • Have frequent stomachaches or other physical complaints
    • Avoid going to school or avoid social situations

Read more about CFI’s treatment options for General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and related anxiety disorders.



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