As mentioned above, it’s normal to experience anxiety from time to time, and feeling anxious or worried in certain situations doesn’t mean that you have an anxiety disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder is when your worrying is persistent, intrusive, out of proportion to the specific event and disruptive to your life. For example:
- You may feel worried about certain things. If you have GAD, this worrying may disrupt your ability to maintain your normal work or educational performance, spend time with your friends and family, or take part in normal activities.
- Normally, you only worry about certain, specific things, such as an exam score or work assignment. If you have GAD, you may worry about a large variety of unrelated topics and assume negative outcomes.
- Normally, you can control your worrying to some extent, preventing it from causing you to experience distress. If you have GAD, you may be unable to effectively control your worrying, resulting in significant personal distress and unhappiness.
Another key difference between “normal” anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder is the total amount of time that symptoms occur.
It’s normal to worry for short, reasonable periods of time. However, if you have GAD, you may worry about certain things every day for a period of six months or longer.