Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children and Adolescents

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most common anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Kids with GAD experience frequent worry about any number of different topics. They may worry about something that might happen in the future (e.g. a test or dentist appointment) or something that happened in the past (e.g. doing something embarrassing, doing poorly on a homework assignment). Common worries include school performance, mistakes they have made in the past, personal health or the health of loved ones, family finances, or things going on in the world at large (e.g. war, natural disasters, etc.).

Symptoms

  • At times, kids with GAD may feel like they can’t stop worrying. As a result of this worry, it is common to experience uncomfortable physical sensations (e.g. sweaty palms, stomach aches)
  • High levels of anxiety and worry may also cause feelings of restlessness, irritability, trouble with concentrating, muscle tension, and trouble with sleeping
  • In order to meet diagnostic criteria for GAD, the worries must be messing up the person’s life to a significant degree. This means that occasional worry does not mean that you (or your child) have GAD! It is also important to remember that some worry occurs within the context of other disorders, such as Social Phobia or Panic Disorder.