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What Are The 5 Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

What Are The 5 Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a normal emotional reaction in response to stressful situations. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “anxiety refers to anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior.” Adolescence is an incredibly challenging time, and teenagers experiencing bouts of anxiety is to be expected. However, young people that experience persistent and debilitating anxiety may have an anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental illness. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) 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.” Anxiety disorders, including GAD, involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear, and anxiety. 

Symptoms and Diagnostic Criteria

Every teen is different and has the propensity to exhibit a variety of symptoms when struggling with GAD. There are more than five symptoms that are associated with generalized anxiety disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (AADA), in order to be clinically diagnosed with GAD a young person must experience severe difficulty controlling his or her worry on more days than not for at least six months and present with at least three or more of following signs and symptoms:

  • Nervousness
  • Edginess 
  • Irritability
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic and/ or doom
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty sleeping (due to trouble falling asleep and/ or staying asleep, restlessness at night, and/ or unsatisfying sleep)
  • Hyperventilation (breathing rapidly)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak and/ or tired
  • Impaired concentration and/ or feeling as though the mind goes blank
  • Increased muscle aches and/ or soreness
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) problems (i.e., nausea, diarrhea, vomiting…etc.)

The above criteria differentiate GAD from normal bouts of anxiety and/ or worry that may manifest from a specific set of stressors or for a more limited period. An adolescent that struggles with GAD will likely experience a large percentage of his or her waking hours excessively worrying about something, even when there is no specific threat present. Reports have noted that GAD affects nearly eight percent of teenagers in America. 

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.


We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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