Anxiety disorders range from feelings of uneasiness to immobilizing bouts of fear. This fact sheet briefly describes the different types of anxiety disorders and is not meant to treat or diagnose disorders. If you believe you or a loved one has an anxiety disorder, seek professional advice.
Anxiety is among the most common, most treatable emotional disorders. Effective treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques, and in some cases, medication in addition to therapy. Psychologists do not prescribe medication, but refer to and work alongside Psychiatrists and nurse practitioners.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th Ed; DSM-IV) is the book used by qualified mental health professionals to make diagnoses. The following is a summary of the required symptom makeup to be used as a guide. However, it is important to know that only a qualified professional who also relies on clinical judgment can make an accurate diagnosis.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
At least 6 months of "excessive anxiety and worry" about a variety of events and situations. Generally, "excessive" can be interpreted as more than would be expected for a particular situation or event. Most people become anxious over certain things, but the intensity of the anxiety typically corresponds to the situation.
There is significant difficulty in controlling the anxiety and worry. If someone has a very difficult struggle to regain control, relax, or cope with the anxiety and worry, then this requirement is met.
The presence for most days over the previous six months of 3 or more of the following symptoms:
1. Feeling wound-up, tense, or restless, 2. Easily becoming fatigued or worn-out, 3. Concentration problems, 4. Irritability, 5. Significant tension in muscles, 6. Difficulty with sleep.
The symptoms cause "clinically significant distress" or problems functioning in daily life.
Source: American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th Ed., Text Revision). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.