Generalized Anxiety Disorder: What It Is, Symptoms, Causes and More

People with generalized anxiety disorder experience extreme worry that can interfere with sleep and is usually accompanied by bodily symptoms ranging from tiredness to headaches and nausea.

It is normal to feel anxious occasionally, especially if your life is stressful; however, excessive and continuous anxiety and worry that are difficult to control and interfere with daily activities can be a sign of this disorder.

What is generalized anxiety disorder?

It is a disorder of anxiety characterized by excessive, uncontrollable, and often irrational worry, that is, an apprehensive expectation about events or activities; this concern too often interferes with daily functioning because people typically anticipate disaster and they worry too much about everyday issues such as health problems, money, death, family problems, friendship problems, interpersonal relationships or work difficulties.

It is much more than the normal anxiety that people experience from day to day, it is chronic, and patients experience great worry and tension, often without provocation.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life; For example, you may feel worried and anxious about taking an exam or undergoing a medical exam or job interview. At times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal, yet some people find it difficult to control their worries, their feelings are more constant, and they can often affect their daily lives.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder

It is characterized by six months or more of worry and tension that is chronic, exaggerated, unfounded, or much more severe than the normal anxiety that most people experience. People with this disorder usually:

  • They cannot control their excessive worry.
  • They have trouble falling or falling asleep.
  • They experience muscle tension.
  • They expect the worst.
  • Extreme concern about money, health, family, or work, even when there are no signs of problems.
  • They cannot relax.
  • They are irritable.
  • They are easily scared.
  • They tire easily.
  • You have trouble concentrating, or your mind goes blank.

Common symptoms of the body are:

  • Feeling tired for no reason.
  • Headaches.
  • Muscle tension and pain.
  • Have difficulty swallowing.
  • Shaking or spasms
  • Perspiration.
  • Nausea.
  • Feel dizzy.
  • Feeling out of breath
  • Having to go to the bathroom frequently.
  • Hot flushes.

In children and adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder, their anxieties and worries are often associated with the quality of performance or competition in school or at sporting events. Additionally, concerns may include punctuality, conformity, and perfectionism, and they may be so unsure of themselves that they will re-perform tasks to achieve a level of perceived perfection.

What Causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

The exact cause is not fully understood, although several factors are likely to play a role. Research has suggested that these may include:

  • Hyperactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behavior.
  • An imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine are involved in the control and regulation of mood.
  • The genes you inherit from your parents: you are estimated to be five times more likely to develop it if you have a close relative with the condition.
  • I had a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse, or bullying.
  • We are having a long-term painful health condition, such as arthritis.
  • Have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

However, many people develop this disorder for no apparent reason.

How is generalized anxiety disorder treated?

Cognitive behavioral therapy

This treatment involves meeting regularly to speak with a mental health professional; the goal is to change how you think and your behavior. This approach has successfully created permanent changes in many people with anxiety; it is considered the first-line treatment for disorders in pregnant people. Others have found that the benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy have provided long-term anxiety relief.

In therapy sessions, you will learn to recognize and control your anxious thoughts and calm yourself when bothersome thoughts arise. Read more about cognitive behavioral therapy. 


It involves talking with a trained mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor to learn how to treat problems such as anxiety disorders—complete content on psychotherapy.


If your doctor recommends medications, they will most likely create a short-term drug plan and a long-term drug plan.

Short-term medications relax some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle tension and stomach cramps. Some common anti-anxiety drugs are:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax).
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin).
  • Lorazepam (Ativan).

They are not intended to be taken for long periods, as they have a high risk of dependency and abuse. Medicines called antidepressants work well for long-term treatment. Some common ones are:

  • Buspirone (Buspar)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetina (Prozac, Sarafem)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Venlafaxina (Effexor XR)
  • Desvenlafaxina (Pristiq)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

These medications can take a few weeks to start working; they can also have side effects, such as dry mouth, nausea, and diarrhea. These symptoms bother some people so much that they stop taking these medications.

There is a shallow risk of increased suicidal thoughts in young adults at the beginning of antidepressant treatment. Stay in close contact with your prescriber if you are taking antidepressants, and be sure to report any changes in mood or thoughts that concern you.

Your doctor may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication and an antidepressant. If so, you will probably only take the anti-anxiety medication for a few weeks until your antidepressant starts to work or as needed.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.