Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis

Because GAD is so prevalent in America, it’s important that the diagnoses given are accurate. Often times, however, GAD is misdiagnosed or overlooked completely9, as its symptoms overlap with those of multiple other conditions. Sometimes, GAD can even be written off as a physical ailment, given its symptoms related to the stomach and heart.

Your provider may begin to diagnose10 GAD by:

  • Asking you about your signs and symptoms, including their frequency and severity
  • Conducting a physical exam to assess whether any health conditions or medications you’re taking might be triggering your symptoms
  • Discussing what social situations make you anxious to determine potential triggers

In order to accurately diagnose GAD, it’s important to properly screen patients. Specialists will likely consult the criteria listed in the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association) to diagnose a generalized anxiety disorder.

The DSM-5 describes11 the characteristics of generalized anxiety disorder as including:

  • Excessive anxiety and worry about a number of events or activities that occurs more days than not for at least six months
  • The person finds it difficult to control their worry
  • The anxiety and worry are associated with three or more of the following symptoms: restlessness, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, or sleep disturbance
  • The disturbance is not better explained by another mental disorder
  • The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism) and does not occur during a mood disorder, a psychotic disorder, or a pervasive developmental disorder
  • The anxiety, worry, or symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

It’s important never to self-diagnose. If you think you may have GAD, the best thing to do is see a medical professional. They can refer you to a specialist who can determine the right course of treatment.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.