Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms can vary. They can include:

  • Constant worrying or obsession about small or large concerns
  • Restlessness and feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or your mind "going blank"
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension or muscle aches
  • Trembling, feeling twitchy or being easily startled
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating, nausea or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat

There may be times when your worries don't completely consume you, but you still feel anxious even when there's no apparent reason. For example, you may feel intense worry about your safety or that of your loved ones, or you may have a general sense that something bad is about to happen.

Symptoms in children and adolescents

In addition to the symptoms above, children and adolescents may have excessive worries about:

  • Performance at school or sporting events
  • Being on time (punctuality)
  • Earthquakes, nuclear war or other catastrophic events

A child with the disorder may also:

  • Feel overly anxious to fit in
  • Be a perfectionist
  • Lack confidence
  • Redo tasks because they aren't perfect the first time
  • Strive for approval
  • Require a lot of reassurance about performance

When to see a doctor

Some anxiety is normal, but see your doctor if:

  • You feel like you're worrying too much, and it's interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life
  • You feel depressed, have trouble with drinking or drugs, or you have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
  • You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors — seek emergency treatment immediately

Your worries are unlikely to simply go away on their own, and they may actually get worse over time. Try to seek professional help before your anxiety becomes severe — it may be easier to treat early on.

Sep. 08, 2011

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.