This site is intended for healthcare professionals

Go to /sign-in page

You can view 5 more pages before signing in


Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of a range of anxiety disorders that includes panic disorder (with and without agoraphobia), post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, specific phobias (for example, of spiders) and acute stress disorder. Anxiety disorders can exist in isolation but more commonly occur with other anxiety and depressive disorders.

GAD is a common disorder, of which the central feature is excessive worry about a number of different events associated with heightened tension

  • a formal diagnosis using the DSM-IV classification system requires two major symptoms occurring more days than not, for at least 6 months (excessive anxiety and worry about a number of events and activities, and difficulty controlling the worry) and three or more additional symptoms from a list below: The anxiety and worry are associated with at least three of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms present for more days than not, for the past 6 months):
    • restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
    • being easily fatigued
    • difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
    • irritability
    • muscle tension
    • sleep disturbance

Symptoms should be present for at least 6 months and should cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning


  • choice of this diagnostic category is problematic since there is much overlap with conditions such as agoraphobia. Problems also arise with the confusion of "anxiety neurosis" with "anxiousness", the latter being a symptom rather than a syndrome. Anxiousness may occur with any psychiatric disorder, but anxiety neurosis only occurs in the absence of other psychiatric symptoms. Lastly, it may also be difficult to separate anxiety from mild depressive states.


  1. American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (fourth edition). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association. This guideline uses DSM-IV criteria because the evidence for treatments is largely based on this system
  2. NICE (January 2011). Generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia) in adults

Create an account to add page annotations

Add information to this page that would be handy to have on hand during a consultation, such as a web address or phone number. This information will always be displayed when you visit this page

The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.


Copyright 2024 Oxbridge Solutions Limited, a subsidiary of OmniaMed Communications Limited. All rights reserved. Any distribution or duplication of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. Oxbridge Solutions receives funding from advertising but maintains editorial independence.