Anxiety Disorders Association of Ontario

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety involves ongoing and excessive worry about everyday events or activities. It occurs within an extended period of time and is out of proportion to the threat posed by those events or activities. People with generalized anxiety disorder are typically very self-conscious; they feel tense and have a strong need for reassurance.

Symptoms can include:

  • Muscle tensiongad
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Loss of sleep
  • Inability to concentrate

Individuals are typically diagnosed with generalized anxiety when feelings of excessive anxiety and worry about several events and activities, are present for the majority of days of a 6-month period. Individuals find it difficult to control their feelings of anxiety and worry. They often experience physical symptoms that may include restlessness, fatigue, concentration difficulties, irritability, muscle tension, and/or sleep disturbances. These symptoms interfere with an individuals’ ability to work, engage in social activities, and participate in other important areas of their life (e.g. family, hobbies). Before diagnosing GAD, a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist needs to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms of anxiety (e.g. substance abuse, another mental health diagnosis).

References: Stein, D. (Ed.) (2004). Clinical manual of anxiety disorders. Washington: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.