Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Psychopharmacology

pp 699-702


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Malcolm LaderAffiliated withInstitute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London Email author 


Anxiety neurosis; Free-floating anxiety; GAD


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by an excessive and inappropriate worrying that is persistent and not restricted to particular circumstances. Patients have physical anxiety symptoms (such as tachycardia and tremor) and key psychological symptoms, including restlessness, fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, irritability, and disturbed sleep. The disorder is common and disabling; a recent review of epidemiological studies in Europe suggests a 12-month prevalence of between 1.7 % and 3.75 % (being more common in old age), and the associated functional impairment is similar to that with major depression. However, many of those who might benefit from treatment are not recognized or treated, which is disappointing, as a broad range of evidence-based treatments is available.

Role of Pharmacotherapy

Efficacy in Acute Treatment

Current evidence-based guidelines for the pharmacological management of patients with GAD ...

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