Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. In people with GAD, the worry often is unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread. Eventually, the anxiety so dominates the person’s thinking that it interferes with daily functioning, including work, school, social activities, and relationships.
GAD affects the way a person thinks, but the anxiety can lead to physical symptoms, as well. Symptoms of GAD can include:
In addition, people with GAD often have other anxiety disorders (such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias), suffer from depression, and/or abuse drugs or alcohol.
The exact cause of GAD is not fully known, but a number offactors — includinggenetics, brain chemistry and environmentalstresses — appearto contribute to its development.
About 4 million adult Americans suffer from GAD during the course of a year. It most often begins in childhood or adolescence, but can begin in adulthood. It is more common in women than in men.
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