Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a psychiatric disorder included, in DSM-5, within the chapter of anxiety disorders. GAD is characterized by the presence of anxious symptoms (both psychic and physical) that are not linked to a specific cause but are precisely “generalized”. Those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder tend to be constantly alert, to worry excessively about anything, showing a significant reduction in the quality of life over time. Treatment of GAD generally includes psychopharmacological therapy, psychotherapy, or both. In general, to combat anxiety, especially when it is very intense, an integrated treatment is required.

Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a very widespread psychiatric disorder. Epidemiological studies in the United States have estimated the prevalence of GAD over the life span of 9% (APA, 2013).

Generalized anxiety disorder is a disorder characterized by a tendentially constant anxious state that leads to disproportionate and incongruous worries in different areas of the patient’s life. Compared to other anxiety disorders, such as social phobia or panic disorder, which are often attributable to specific and circumscribed concerns, in GAD the concerns do not concern a specific theme but are extended to different areas of the life of the person. patient.

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder

The main symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are:

Fear of the future
Restlessness or constant psychic tension.
Feeling of constant emptying and chronic fatigue.
Difficulty in attention and concentration.
Easy nervousness and irritability.
Difficulty in sleeping which can be translated as difficulties in falling asleep, in maintaining sleep, or in restless and unrefreshing sleep.

Physical signs and symptoms related to constant anxiety may also appear, such as:

Muscle tension
Nausea, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome

Generalized anxiety disorder and DSM-5

The DSM-5 drawn up by the American Psychiatric Association and released in 2013, places generalized anxiety disorder within the chapter of anxiety disorders. According to the DSM-5, GAD is characterized as a state of excessive anxiety, which affects various areas and daily life events (such as school or work), and which is difficult to manage for the person who suffers from it.

Causes of generalized anxiety disorder

The causes of generalized anxiety disorder are different and not fully understood. As with many mental disorders, GAD is also referred to as a multifactorial genesis disorder. This means that psychological, biological and environmental variables related to each other can cause the disorder. From a psychological point of view, the explanations of generalized anxiety disorder are different based on the different theoretical approaches of reference.


The treatment of generalized anxiety disorder generally involves two possible therapeutic paths: psychotherapy and psychopharmacological therapy.

Psychopharmacological therapy is generally prescribed by a psychiatrist and involves the use of different types of drugs. Among the drugs most used for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder are antidepressant drugs. In fact, different categories of antidepressants, in addition to acting on mood, also act on anxiety by reducing symptoms.


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