DIAGNOSTIC FEATURES OF GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
- excessive anxiety and worry
- difficulty controlling worry
- three or more of the following:
- feeling restless, edgy, or keyed up
- often tired
- trouble concentrating or mind going blank
- muscle tension
- sleep problems
- cause significant stress or interfere with social or occupational functioning and
- can’t be explained by another physical or mental problem.
However, after getting a more detailed history of what he’d been experiencing, GAD was the most likely diagnosis. Bruce’s free-floating anxiety drifted from one concern to the next, and that had become his standard mental state. He had gotten used to it, and it seemed like no matter what he did in life, in the back of his mind, there was always a concern that things could go wrong at any moment. We reviewed the diagnostic criteria for a GAD diagnosis, and Bruce met almost every one.
Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder vary among individuals, and sometimes patients have features of several anxiety disorders simultaneously. Bruce had trouble controlling his anxiety throughout the day, and even when he enjoyed a momentary reprieve from worry, he would fret about when the next bad thing would occur. This anticipatory quality of worry differentiates it from fear, which is a distressing emotion triggered by impending danger rather concern about some future hypothetical event.