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GAD is characterized by the DSM-5 as six months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience. People with this disorder usually experience symptoms including:

  • Inability to control excessive worrying

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep

  • Irritability

  • Easily startled or scared

  • Difficulty concentrating or the mind goes blank

Common physical symptoms include:

  • Headaches and fatigue

  • Muscle tension and aches

  • Having a hard time swallowing

  • Trembling or twitching

  • Sweating 

  • Shaking

  • Rapid Heartbeat

  • Nausea

  • Light-headedness and tingling in the extremities.

  • Feeling out of breath

  • Having to go to the bathroom frequently

  • Hot flashes

In children and adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder, anxieties and worries are often associated with performance or competence at school or in sporting events. Additionally, worries may include punctuality, conformity, and perfectionism.

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