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General anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by uncontrollable worry about everyday things. The frequency, intensity, and duration of the worry are disproportionate to the actual source of worry, and such worry often interferes with daily functioning. GAD sufferers often uncontrollably worry over things such as their job, their finances, and the health of themselves and their family. However, GAD sufferers can also constantly abnormally worry over more mundane things such as timeliness for appointments, keeping the house clean, and whether or not their workspace is properly organized. For a diagnosis of GAD to be made, worry must be present more days than not for at least six months.
Physical symptoms of GAD can include: cold, clamy hands; difficulty swallowing; gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea; jumpiness; muscle tension; nausea; and sweating. GAD sufferers also easily become tired and have trouble sleeping. They also tend to be irritable and complain about feeling “on edge”.
GAD can be difficult to diagnose, because it often lacks the more telltale signs of other anxiety disorders, such as withpanic disorder. GAD can also occur alongside other anxiety disorders, as well as alongside depressive disorders and substance abuse