Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, formerly known as Free-Floating Anxiety, affects about 4 million Americans. Although Generalized Anxiety Disorder comes on gradually, the age group range at the highest risk is between childhood and middle age.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) classifies Generalized Anxiety Disorder with six characteristics. First, excessive anxiety and worry occurs more days than not for at least six months. The anxiety can focus on life events or activities, including work or school. Secondly, the patient finds in difficult to control the worry. Third, the anxiety and worry are associated with three or more of the following symptoms: 1) restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge, 2) being easily fatigued, 3) difficulty concentrating or mind going blank, 4) irritability, 5) muscle tension, 6) sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep). Fourth, the focus of the anxiety and worry is not due to a specific phobia or circumstance. Fifth, the anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Last, but not least, the disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (medication or drug of abuse) or a general medical condition.

While adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder are often concerned about job responsibilities, household responsibilities, family members, or finances; children diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder are usually focused on their competence or the quality of their performance.

It is important to note that during the course of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, the focus of the worry may shift from one item to another. It is also important to note that the intensity, duration, and frequency of the anxiety and worry are more than warranted for the actual event.

Within the past 25 years, the development of treatment techniques within the field of psychology for Generalized Anxiety Disorder has shown incredible success rates between 90-100%.

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