Harvard Mental Health Letter

Generalized anxiety disorder

People who worry about everything — and nothing in particular — have several treatment options.

When people turn on the television, chances are they will experience a barrage of anxiety-provoking news — a sagging economy, international political conflicts, natural disasters. At the same time, they may be dealing with their own personal stress — such as worries about job security or health. Anxiety is often a healthy response to uncertainty and danger, but constant worry and nervousness may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder.

This common disorder affects about 5% to 6% of Americans at some point in their lives. Women are twice as likely as men to develop generalized anxiety disorder. Some research suggests that prevalence of this disorder increases with age. Generalized anxiety disorder usually first appears from young adulthood through the mid-50s — a later onset than seen with other psychiatric disorders.

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