The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (DSM-5) outlines specific criteria to help diagnose
generalized anxiety disorder.
Criteria for Diagnosing GAD
- The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least 6 months and is clearly excessive.
- The worry is experienced as very challenging to control. The worry in both adults and children may easily shift from one topic to another.
- The anxiety and worry are accompanied with at least three of the following physical or cognitive symptoms (In children, only one symptom is necessary for a diagnosis of GAD:
- Edginess or restlessness
- Tiring easily; more fatigued than usual
- Impaired concentration or feeling as though the mind goes blank
- Irritability (which may or may not be observable to others)
- Increased muscle aches or soreness
- Difficulty sleeping (due to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness at night, or unsatisfying sleep)
Excessive worry means worrying even when
there is no specific threat present or in a manner that is disproportionate to
the actual risk. Someone struggling with GAD experiences a high percentage of
their waking hours worrying about something.
The worry may be accompanied by
reassurance-seeking from others. In adults, the worry can be about job
responsibilities or performance, one’s own health or the health of family
members, financial matters, and other every day, typical life circumstances. In
children, the worry is more likely to be about their abilities or the quality
of their performance (for example, in school).
Many individuals with GAD also experience
symptoms such as sweating, nausea, or diarrhea.
- The anxiety, worry, or associated symptoms make it hard to carry out day-to-day activities and responsibilities. They may cause problems in relationships, at work, or in other important areas.
- These symptoms are unrelated to any other medical conditions and cannot be explained by the effect of substances including a prescription medication, alcohol, or recreational drugs.
physiological symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Neurological, as headache,
paresthesias, fasciculations, vertigo, or presyncope.
- Digestive, as abdominal pain,
nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, dry mouth, or bolus.
- Respiratory, as shortness of
breath or sighing breathing.
- Cardiac, as palpitations,
tachycardia, or chest pain.
- Muscular, as fatigue, tremors,
- Cutaneous, as perspiration, or
- Uro-genital, as frequent
urination, urinary urgency, dyspareunia, or impotence, chronic pelvic pain
syndrome. Stress hormones released in an anxious state have an impact on bowel
function and can manifest physical symptoms that may contribute to or