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Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

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Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can affect both adults and children. People with GAD often have psychological and physical symptoms. They may visit the doctor many times before they are diagnosed. They often ask the doctor to help them with the complaints related to GAD, such as headaches or trouble falling asleep. Reluctance to discuss emotional problems and worries may lead to a delay in the diagnosis.

Psychological symptoms of GAD include:

  • Excessive ongoing worrying, even when there are no signs of trouble
  • Inability to relax
  • Difficulty concentrating, mind going “blank”
  • Feeling tense, edgy, or jumpy
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping

Physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Trembling
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweating
  • Light-headedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Frequent urination in adults and bed-wetting in children
  • Aches and pains
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort, including diarrhea , heartburn, and flatulence
  • Dry mouth
  • Cold, clammy hands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Racing heart

Revision Information

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org/GettingHelp/AnxietyDisorders/GAD.asp . Accessed October 29, 2008.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad.shtml . Update June 2008. Accessed October 29, 2008.