The essential feature of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is anxiety, which is generalized and persistent but not restricted to, or even strongly predominating in, any particular environmental circumstances (i.e. it is “free-floating”). Though everyone experiences occasional anxiety as a normal reaction to threatening, dangerous, uncertain, or important situation, some persons feel anxious much of the time and may, in fact, suffer from GAD.
Normal anxiety can enhance some people’s function, motivation, and productivity, such as the person who works well under pressure. People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience excessive and chronic anxiety that is often interferes with their ability to function in normal daily activities. Approximately two to four percent of the population suffers from GAD; it is therefore one of the more common of the psychiatric disorders.
The characteristic feature of GAD is that anxiety and worry is excessive and often feels uncontrollable. The worry often focuses on finances, job responsibilities, health of family members, or other routine life circumstances. Fears that the sufferer or a relative will shortly become ill or have an accident are often expressed, together with a variety of other worries and forebodings. In addition to chronic worry, GAD symptoms often include feelings of restlessness or edginess, being easily tired, poor concentration, irritable mood, muscle tension, lightheadedness, and poor sleep. This disorder is more common in women, and often related to chronic environmental stress. Its course is variable but tends to be fluctuating and chronic.