Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Mary Kimmel, M.D., Claire Zachik, Traci Speed, M.D., Ph.D.


  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is defined as persistent excessive free-floating anxiety and worry about multiple general aspects of life (e.g., family/relationships, school/work, and health).
  • Anxiety and worry are normal phenomena in response to stress.
  • The anxiety and worry associated with GAD is:
    • Out of proportion to the actual likelihood or impact of the anticipated event, activity, or situation
    • Difficult to control
    • Causes significant distress, with associated physical symptoms
    • Interferes with psychosocial functioning
  • The etiology of GAD is not completely understood, but biological and psychosocial factors appear to contribute
    • One third of the risk of experiencing GAD appears due to genetic causes

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Last updated: June 10, 2017