Unifying Concepts

Criteria for the Diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (DSM-V)

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent anxiety and uncontrollable worry that occurs consistently for at least 6 months. This disorder is commonly associated with depression, alcohol and substance abuse, physical health problems, or all these factors.

Criteria for the Diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Excessive anxiety and worry about various events have occurred more days than not for at least 6 months.
  • The person finds it difficult to control the worry.
  • The anxiety and worry are associated with at least three of the following six symptoms (only one symptom is required in children): restlessness or a feeling of being keyed up or “on edge”, being easily fatigued, having difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance.
  • The anxiety, worry, or associated physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in important areas of functioning.
  • The disturbance is not due to the physiological effects of a substance or medical condition.
  • The disturbance is not better accounted for by another mental disorder.

All the features listed must be present in order to make a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder.



  1. Stein MB, Sareen J. CLINICAL PRACTICE. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. N Engl J Med. 2015 Nov 19;373(21):2059-68. [Medline]
  2. Combs H, Markman J. Anxiety disorders in primary care. Med Clin North Am. 2014 Sep;98(5):1007-23. [Medline]
  3. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.


Created Jan 04, 2016.

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