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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder seen in primary care clinic and affects more than 3% of the United States adult population. It is characterized by an excessive and pervasive anxiety, recurring worry about common events, physical symptoms such as muscle tension and insomnia or fatigue. On the other hand, anxiety itself can be an appropriate response to stressful situations as long as it is not disabling or difficult to control. Generalized anxiety disorder is associated with a reduced global life satisfaction, decreased productivity and lower health-related quality of life. Common risk factors for GAD include female gender, family history of GAD and substance abuse. There are no laboratory or imaging tests that can make the diagnosis but it can be helpful to check a few laboratory tests to exclude alternative diagnoses such as thyroid disorders. The initial treatment of GAD involves identification of distressing and dysfunctional beliefs or thought patterns and replacement them with rational and realistic views. In some cases drug therapy, often with serotonin reuptake inhibitors, similar to those used for depression, can be helpful in GAD. Furthermore, some patients may benefit from therapists, psychologist and psychiatrists.

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Patel G and Fancher TL. In The Clinic: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Ann Intern Med. 2013. Dec 3; 159 (11)