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Yes, from a legal standpoint: some forms of generalized anxiety disorder can be considered a disability. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental illness. The Mayo Clinic characterizes GAD as “severe ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities.” The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most “common mental disorders in the United States, and can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life and disrupt important activities of daily living.” Although the exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder remains unknown, research has inferred that it likely involves a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Reports have noted that GAD affects nearly eight percent of teenagers in America.

Legal Protection

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs that provide benefits based on disability: the Social Security disability insurance program (title II of the Social Security Act (Act)) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program (title XVI of the Act). The law that governs Social Security benefits defines a disability as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” Hence, a disability includes long-term (i.e., longer than 12 months) or potentially fatal mental impairments that interfere with one’s ability to fulfill the requirements of one’s job or interfere with one’s ability to find enough employment to support oneself. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life (i.e., schools, jobs, restaurants, transportation, etc.). The purpose for the creation and enactment of this law was to ensure all people with disabilities have the same access to rights and opportunities as everyone else. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was signed into law in 2008 and became effective January 1, 2009. This amendment implements changes to the definition of “disability” as was provided in the ADA. It broadens the term, making it easier for individuals seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability that falls under the parameters set forth under the ADA. 

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


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