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
- Difficulty concentrating or your mind "going blank"
- 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
- Generalized anxiety disorder (includes overanxious anxiety disorder of childhood). In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed June 10, 2011.
- Schneier SR. Generalized anxiety disorder: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 10, 2011.
- Blevins NC, et al. Anxiety disorders. In: Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..00011-9--sc9005&isbn=978-1-4377-0986-5&uniqId=257876576-3#4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..00011-9--sc9005. Accessed June 10, 2011.
- Lee RA. Anxiety disorders. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-2/0/1494/0.html. Accessed June 10, 2011.
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