Generalized anxiety disorder

Alternative Names

GAD; Anxiety disorder

Definition of Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a pattern of frequent, constant worry and over many different activities and events.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common condition. Genes may play a role. Stressful life situations or learned behavior may also contribute to the development of GAD.


The main symptom is the almost constant presence of worry or tension, even when there is little or no cause. Worries seem to float from one problem to another, such as family or relationship problems, work issues, money, health, and other problems.

Signs and tests

A physical examination and psychological evaluation can rule out other causes of anxiety. The health care provider should rule out physical disorders that may mimic anxiety, as well as symptoms caused by drugs. This process may include different tests.


The goal of treatment is to help you function well during day-to-day life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications are the mainstays of treatment.

Expectations (prognosis)

The success of treatment usually depends on the severity of the generalized anxiety disorder. The disorder may continue and be difficult to treat, but most patients see great improvement with medications or behavioral therapy.


Fred K. Berger, MD, Addiction and Forensic Psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/14/2010

Generalized anxiety disorder

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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