Approximately 15 million individuals in the United States suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and when added together with the 4.9% of people with agoraphobia (social anxiety) and 1.6% with panic disorder, anxiety disorders affect almost 10% of the country, or 30 million people.
Generalized anxiety disorder is a condition where a person has excessive worry, tension, and anxiety over various aspects of their lives. It can be focused on big things like work, personal relationships, or money, or it can be worry about seemingly insignificant things as well. The anxiety will be intense enough to interfere with a person's daily functioning, and become an impediment in his or her life, and can also cause physical symptoms like headache, difficulty sleeping, and feeling faint.
Problematic anxiety must be present for six months for diagnosis. Patients often have substance abuse problems as well.
Effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder and other more specific anxiety disorders is available with anti-depressant (Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil, Celexa) and anti-anxiety (Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax) medications, along with cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at changing thoughts, behaviors, and facing and understanding fears. Diagnosis is made after symptoms persist for six months or longer.