Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

By Celine Bennion

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder in the United States, currently impacting 3.1% of the population; as many as 5.7% of U.S. adults report experiencing this disorder at some point in their lives. GAD is characterized by feelings of excessive worry which have no particular trigger. This anxiety can be felt about school, work, social interactions, or even common, everyday events. These behavior patterns and cognitive issues become disordered when they begin to disrupt normal functioning.

Symptoms of GAD include the following: restlessness, being wound-up or on-edge, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleeping problems including difficulty falling/staying asleep or unsatisfying sleep. At least three of these symptoms must be present for at least six months for a patient to be diagnosed with GAD.


Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that is particularly helpful in treating anxiety disorders, including GAD. This therapy involves teaching patients different ways to approach anxiety inducing situations by changing how they think, behave, and react to them. It also helps to implement social skills in patients.

Medications are another form of treatment for GAD. It should be noted, however, that medications are used to help decrease symptoms of a disorder and do not cure it entirely. Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications are commonly used to treat GAD. Anti-depressants work for both depression and anxiety by altering chemicals in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine. They help to regulate mood and relieve symptoms associated with these disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are the most commonly used anti-depressants. Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, are effective in treating anxiety symptoms quickly. They are often used as a second option when anti-depressants are not enough to relieve symptoms.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an anxiety disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit

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