Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a specific type of anxiety disorder. Most people worry at times about their health, job, money, or family, but people with GAD experience anxiety about these things and more, in a way that is persistent, excessive, and intrusive.
Often, people with GAD struggle to relax and have trouble concentrating on tasks. They may experience physical symptoms including restlessness, sweating, difficulty swallowing, and using the restroom a lot.
According to mental health experts, nearly 3% of all U.S. adults have experienced GAD in the last year and it is estimated that up to 9% experience GAD at some point in their lives. But with proper treatment—including medication and psychotherapy—they can learn to manage their symptoms and live a more productive life.
Often used interchangeably with psychological disorder, mental illness, and psychiatric disorder, a mental disorder is the official term used in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) DSM-5 manual. The APA indicates that a mental disorder is a noticeable disturbance in a person’s emotions, behaviors, or thinking patterns that impacts their quality of life.
An anxiety disorder is a serious mental health issue that causes a person to feel excessive fear, anxiety, or worry along with other related symptoms and behaviors. Because these fears will generally not go away on their own, they may get worse over time and can interfere with daily activities without treatment.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a process used to treat a variety of mental health issues and emotional difficulties. Through different techniques and methods, a psychotherapist will help a client address psychological and life issues. While there are many approaches to psychotherapy, the overall goal is to help clients decrease symptoms and improve their functioning and well-being.
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that involves a persistent, excessive, and irrational fear of something like a situation, activity, object, person, or animal. Typically, people with phobias try to avoid the source of their fear; or if they cannot avoid the situation, they endure it with intense fear or anxiety.
National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Generalized anxiety disorder. Updated June 2, 2020.
National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety disorders. Updated July 2018.