Thursday, June 29, 2006

Into the DSM-IV - Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed when a person suffers from excessive anxiety and worry that takes place for more than half the days in a 6 month time period. Furthermore, the anxiety causes impairment in social, occupational or other areas of functioning. Criteria for this diagnosis includes at least three of the following:

  • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge

  • Easily fatigued

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Muscle tension

  • Sleep disturbance

Risk Factors

  • Having a comorbid DSM-IV disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is often diagnosed in those who have another anxiety disorder, a mood disorder or substance-related disorder

  • Having a family member who suffers with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Being female (it is twice as common in women)

  • Having a history of frequent losses or severe childhood fears

  • Having a poor psychological disposition (irrational thinking, negative thinking, overgeneralizing)

  • Being neurotic or excessively conscientious

  • Experiencing a number of overly stressful life events

Protective Factors

  • Healthy childhood development

  • Appropriate parental attachments

  • Strong social supports

  • Knowledge and use of stress management techniques

  • Optimism and self-confidence

  • Psychotherapy: behavioral approaches involving coping skills, relaxation and medication


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