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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  1. Michael Treanor,
  2. Lizabeth Roemer

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0379

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Treanor, M. and Roemer, L. 2010. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. University of Massachusetts, Boston

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a clinical anxiety disorder that is centrally characterized by excessive, pervasive, and chronic worry. Worry is a cognitive activity that involves repeatedly thinking about potential negative future events, such as “What if I can't finish this task?” “What if I never graduate?” “What if I have some type of illness?” According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000), in order to warrant a diagnosis of GAD an individual must experience excessive and uncontrollable worry for at least 6 months, as well as three or more associated symptoms that are present, more days than not, over this time period. These associated symptoms include restlessness, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, or sleep disturbances (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep). Consistent with other DSM-IV diagnostic criteria, both the worry and associated symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment.


  • worry;
  • GAD;
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy;
  • anxiety