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Keywords:

  • generalized anxiety disorder;
  • worrying;
  • diagnostic guidelines;
  • symptomatology

Abstract

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a prevalent and disabling disorder characterised by persistent worrying, anxiety symptoms, and tension. General practitioners and mental healthcare professionals frequently misdiagnose the presenting symptoms. This article addresses the clinical presentation of GAD and provides guidelines for discriminating GAD from other disorders, based on theoretical considerations and clinical experience. Debate relating to the validity of the definition of GAD is discussed, and suggestions are made for improving the criteria for GAD, which may guide future versions of classification systems such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 00:1–16, 2010.