What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by a constant sense of worry and fear that interferes with daily life. Commonly referred to by psychiatrists as "free floating anxiety," people with GAD find it difficult to control feelings of nervousness and worry.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

You may suffer from GAD if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle tension
  • Excessive irritability
  • Feeling constantly "on edge"
  • Fatigue

Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

The following factors can contribute towards an induced risk of GAD:

  • Chemical imbalances
  • Long-lasting stress
  • Family history of anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Abuse of biological agents such as alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Treatment options for GAD are diverse and abundant. Psychotherapy and medication are types of treatment that are most commonly suggested for those suffering from GAD.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): a psychiatric therapy technique that encourages the patient to learn the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This, in turn, allows them to visualize the underlying cause of their anxiety.

Medications For Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Frequently used medication for GAD, common SSRIs include fluoxetime (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), and fluvoxamine (Luvox). These medications strengthen the signal between serotonin and certain neurons, resulting in a reduction of anxiety.
  • Benzodiazepines: Effective medication for anxiety, common benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), and alprazolam (Xanax). These medications are not as widely used as they once were because unlike SSRIs, they have the potential to cause addiction and potentially dangerous withdrawal syndromes if they are abruptly stopped after being taken for a prolonged period of time.

Date of original publication: April 04, 2013
Updated on: November 10, 2015