MAR 13, 2016 1:43 PM PDT

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18 percent of the population. The chronic condition is characterized by an excessive and persistent sense of apprehension.

The condition is also defined by the dysfunctional behaviors used to reduce the fear. Anxiety often leads to avoidance behaviors. Unfortunately, when a person avoids what makes them anxious, it actually reinforces their behavior and makes their anxiety stronger.

Common treatments for anxiety disorders include therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes.

There are many disorders within the anxiety disorder umbrella. Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorders. Those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder experience chronic excessive worry that is not focused on any object or situation.

According to Schacter, Gilbert, and Wegner's book Psychology: Second Edition, the excessive worrying must be "accompanied by three or more of the following symptoms: restlessness, fatigue, concentration problems, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance." In order to be diagnosed with this disorder, one must feel at least three of these symptoms consistently for over 6 months.
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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