Johns Hopkins Health Alert
Generalized Anxiety Disorder vs. Normal Worry: How to Tell the Difference
Everyone worries, to some degree, about things at work or home. And with news of violent incidents and uncertainty about the economy, who doesn't consider worst-case scenarios? So how do you know whether you have a medical condition like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?
GAD symptoms are similar to the "normal worry" that everyone experiences from time to time. The difference is that with GAD, the symptoms are more frequent. For example, one study found that people without GAD tended to worry an average of 55 minutes a day, while those with GAD worried for 310 minutes each day. Other differences listed in the chart below may help you distinguish between normal worry and GAD.
If you are concerned that your worrying may be a sign of something serious, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. An exam will ensure that a physical problem isn't responsible. GAD is generally treated with psychotherapy, medication or both.
Normal Worry: Worrying does not interfere with your job or social life.
GAD: Worrying significantly interferes with your work or social activities.
Normal Worry: You feel that your concerns are controllable and can be dealt with at a later time.
GAD: You feel that your worrying is out of your control.
Normal Worry: Your worries cause only mild distress.
GAD: Your worries are very distressing and pervasive.
Normal Worry: A specific cause initiated your worrying.
GAD: Worrying began for no reason.
Normal Worry: Your worries are limited to a specific topic or a small number of topics.
GAD: You worry about a broad range of topics, like job performance, money, personal safety or the safety of others, etc.
Normal Worry: Significant worrying lasts only for a brief period.
GAD: You have experienced excessive worrying for six months or more.
Normal Worry: Your worrying is not usually accompanied by physical or other psychological symptoms.
GAD: Three or more physical or psychological symptoms occur with your worrying (such as sleep problems, irritability, tense muscles, problems concentrating, fatigue or restlessness).
Posted in Depression and Anxiety on May 14, 2013
Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer
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