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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

By: Arushi

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Feeling anxious from time to time is a typical experience that every person goes through at some point. It could be caused by an upcoming test, a stressful relationship, or something else. On the other hand, generalized anxiety disorder is a serious disorder that impacts a person’s day-to-day life. People with GAD feel extremely anxious often with no cause. They may feel the constant need to control things in their life. This persistent condition can make it difficult to even get through the day. GAD differs from typical anxiousness due to its prolonged effects, extensive symptoms, and varying causes. It’s a relatively common disorder that affects 6.8 million adults in the US, and is nothing to be ashamed of.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can vary. At times, symptoms may come and go, yet they can also significantly worsen during times of stress.

Common symptoms include:

  • Constant worrying or anxiety about money, health, family, work, academics, or other everyday things, and worrying about catastrophes or improbable events

  • Overthinking plans and solutions

  • Difficulty handling and setting aside uncertainty / worry

  • Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision

  • Inability to relax, feeling restless, or feeling irritable or on edge

  • Difficulty concentrating

Physical signs and symptoms may include:

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Muscle aches

  • Trembling / twitching

  • Being easily startled

  • Sweating

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

These symptoms are valid and real, and should not be dismissed, especially when they have been going on for a long period of time. It is typical for people to experience some of these symptoms occasionally, while a person with anxiety experiences them repeatedly, often damaging their quality of life. Thankfully, anxiety disorders are possible to treat. Expressing concern is the first step in addressing GAD. When the anxiety impacts a person’s ability to enjoy life and live productively, it is necessary to seek professional help from a mental health provider. A school counselor or doctor should be able to assist in providing access to needed help.

What are the Causes?

The exact cause of many anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, are unknown. However, learning more about how the brain works can help further understanding. Researchers believe differences in brain chemistry and function are one possible reason for the disorder. Sometimes GAD runs in families, but no one knows for sure why certain family members have it while others don’t. It may be linked to the passing of certain genes. External factors such as life experiences may also play a part.


Generalized anxiety disorder is often treated with some form of therapy and / or medication. Getting help early is key when it comes to GAD, as it can help reduce the impact of the disorder further down the line. In addition, practicing things such as meditation, exercising, and keeping a journal are other techniques that may help people with GAD. For further information, visit MedlinePlus - Health Information from the National Library of Medicine or National Institute of Mental Health.


Works Cited

Khan Academy. "Generalized anxiety disorder (video) | Khan Academy." Khan Academy. n.d. Web. 5 May 2020. <>

Mayo Clinic. "Generalized anxiety disorder - Symptoms and causes." Mayo Clinic. n.d. Web. 5 May 2020. <>

N.a. "Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA." n.d. Web. 5 May 2020. <>

N.a. "NIMH » Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Gets Out of Control." n.d. Web. 5 May 2020. <>

Psychology Today. "Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Psychology Today." Psychology Today. n.d. Web. 5 May 2020. <>

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