Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Learn about the DSM V criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms by watching the video below. 

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What is worry exactly? And how is it different from anxiety?

Worry, Worry, Worry !!

 Worry is the thinking component of anxiety. Anxiety is made of of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and behaviors. Worry is comprised of the specific thoughts that go along with anxiety. 

You can learn more about worry here.

Some examples of thoughts that might compose GAD are :

  • I can't do this.
  • Something terrible is going to happen.
  • Everyone will laugh at me.
  • I will fail.
  • The plane will crash.
  • What if I can't pay my bills?

Click here for more information about causes of generalized anxiety disorder.

It is also essential to know that almost everyone who has generalized anxiety disorder ( GAD) has a secondary diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, or medical condition.

If you have GAD, you may have other undiagnosed problems that you need help with click here for more GAD facts.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms consist of behavioral, physical, and mental (mind) manifestations.



Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) symptoms consist of a pervasive and overwhelming sense of anxiety about everything! 

Females are twice as likely as males to experience GAD.

Did you know that there isn't currently agreement between the two diagnostic manuals that we use to diagnose generalized anxiety disorder which makes it hard to study it and get accurate information about it? 

It's true the ICD 11 and the DSM V have different criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms. 

According to the DSM V; Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms are:

1. Excessive anxiety or worry.

2. Difficult to control worry

3. More days than not for at least 6 months

4. 3 out of these 6 symptoms:

  • 1. Restless of keyed up
  • 2. Being easily fatigued.
  • 3. Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank.
  • 4. Irritability.
  • 5. Muscle tension.
  • 6. Sleep disturbance

6. Anxiety or worry not better explained by another mental disorder

The ICD 11 criteria is:

1. Marked symptoms of anxiety accompanied by either general apprehension (ie, “free-floating anxiety”) or worry focused on multiple everyday events (family, health, finances, school, or work).

2. More days than not for at least several month

3. Unspecified number of symptoms.

4. Significant distress or significant impairment in functioning.

5. Additional symptom such as muscular tension or motor restlessness, sympathetic autonomic overactivity, subjective experience of nervousness, difficulty maintaining concentration, irritability, or sleep disturbance.

If you would like to learn more about these two coding systems please click here.




Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms that are Physical


Autonomic arousal might be  a core symptom of generalized anxiety for you. This symptom was dropped from earlier versions of the DSM and now is thought to be more observed in those with panic disorder. However it is still present in many clients I see and is still a generalized anxiety disorder symptom listed in the ICD 11. You may feel hypervigilant when anxious or hyperactive or keyed up. 

Many of us are disconnected from our bodies that we are unaware that we are having these symptoms until they cause us medical problems. This is why so often there is a correlation between stress and illness.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms might  include feeling physically tired and exhausted. . People who have generalized anxiety sometimes feel exhausted by their worrying but can’t stop. Sufferers will also often have a tremendous amount of muscle tension. Tension and agitation keep anxious people from resting and relaxing and may cause or exacerbate sleep problems. This is a vicious cycle between the mind and body. This constant physical discomfort paired with sleeplessness can, in turn cause irritability and mood fluctuation.



Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms that Involve Behavior and Thoughts


People who have generalized anxiety will often have difficulty concentrating. Of course, they do, because they are too busy worrying to actually pay attention to the moment! This, in turn, deprives people who suffer from anxiety from enjoying their present life, because of unceasing worry about the future. This constant focus on the future is another trait common to those who suffer from this condition. Think about it. If you are always thinking and worrying about the future, your mind can never be calm, focused, and present!

"Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

Behavioral Avoidance

People with general anxiety will avoid things that cause them worry. 

They also often worry rather than effectively solve their problems. It’s a challenge to let go of worry. We are often taught that worry is what helps us to prevent laziness, tragedy. We may believe it shows we care or promotes success and achievement. But guess what? It’s just the opposite. Worry prevents us from giving our all! It disables us. It impairs us. People who have chronic anxiety are less effective at performing their roles and duties.

People with generalized anxiety disorder also view the world as and situations with more distrust and fear and often have a more pessimistic outlook on life. Treatment for generalized anxiety focuses on all of these issues! 

References


Crocq MA. The history of generalized anxiety disorder as a diagnostic category. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017;19(2):107-116. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.2/macrocq


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Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.