Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Section Author: Bethany A. Teachman (University of Virginia)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder refers to difficulties controlling anxious apprehension and worry about life events. The anxiety and worry are excessive and unproductive (i.e., it is not problem solving), and concern multiple life domains or activities, such as work or school performance, health of family members, etc. The uncontrollable worry must last for at least six months, and is accompanied by various somatic symptoms, such as muscle tension, restlessness, sleep disturbance or fatigue, as well as difficulties concentrating or irritability. Importantly, the intensity and duration of the anxiety and worry must be out of proportion to the objective likelihood or negative consequences of the feared events. Further, the worry interferes with functioning, making it difficult to focus on tasks.
- Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies (strong research support)
Note: Other psychological treatments may also be effective in treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but they have not been evaluated with the same scientific rigor as the treatments above. Many medications may also be helpful for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but we do not cover medications in this website. Of course, we recommend a consultation with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and discussion of various treatment options. When you meet with a professional, be sure to work together to establish clear treatment goals and to monitor progress toward those goals. Feel free to print this information and take it with you to discuss your treatment plan with your therapist.