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Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can affect both adults and children. People with GAD often have psychological and physical symptoms. They may visit the doctor many times before they are diagnosed. They often ask the doctor to help them with the problems related to GAD, such as headaches or trouble falling asleep. Reluctance to discuss emotional problems and worries may lead to a delay in the diagnosis.

Psychological symptoms of GAD include:

  • Excessive ongoing worrying, even when there are no signs of trouble
  • Inability to relax
  • Difficulty concentrating, mind going “blank”
  • Feeling tense, edgy, or jumpy
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping

Physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Trembling
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Frequent urination in adults and bedwetting in children
  • Aches and pains
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort, including diarrhea , heartburn, and flatulence
  • Dry mouth
  • Cold, clammy hands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Racing heart


Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Update March 2016. Accessed June 13, 2016.

Generalized anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated July 28, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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