Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is much more than the normal anxiety people experience from day to day. GAD is more than the normal nervous response in stressful situations. Such as, the sweaty palms, a racing heart and the butterflies in the stomach one feels before a big test, a board meeting, or addressing a group for the first time. However, people with GAD can't seem to shake their concerns and are unable to relax. An individual that has this disorder is always anticipating disaster and they worry excessively. .
The psychiatric diagnosis of GAD is chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that lasts for more than six months. They may worry excessively about health, money, family, or work, even when there is no sign of difficulty. They also have trouble relaxing and they often have insomnia. Many live from day to day with distressing physical symptoms such as trembling, sweating, muscle tension, stomach pains, or headaches that tend to worsen when they face even mild stress (Harvard Health Letter, 1998).
In 1994, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) became an identifiable mental disorder with a DSM-IV diagnosis. The diagnostic criteria for GAD are: .
A. Unrealistic or excessive anxiety and worry about life circumstances for a period greater than 6 months, during which this person has been bothered by these concerns for more days than not.
B. The person has difficulty controlling the anxiety and worrying.
C. The anxiety and worry are associated with at least 3 of the following symptoms:.
1) Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge.
2) Being easily fatigued.
3) Difficulty in concentrating or mind going blank.
4) Irritability .
5) Muscle tension.
6) Sleep disturbances.
D. If another psychiatric disorder is present, the focus of the anxiety and worry is unrelated to it.
E. The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or some other important aspect of functioning.