Phenomenology of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Holly Hazlett-Stevens, Larry D. Pruitt and Angela Collins

in Oxford Handbook of Anxiety and Related Disorders

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780195307030
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Phenomenology of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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  • Clinical Psychology



Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) involves excessive and uncontrollable worry as well as chronic somatic anxiety symptoms. The lifetime prevalence is estimated at 5.7%, suggesting that GAD is a pervasive problem in the United States. GAD disproportionately affects women compared to men. Worry typically involves verbal-linguistic thought instead of imagery and tends to be vague and abstract rather than concrete. Worry appears to suppress physiological activation and may interfere with emotional processing following exposure to stressful stimuli. GAD is characterized by autonomic inflexibility and chronic muscle tension rather than autonomic hyperactivity. Individuals with GAD tend to report worry about minor topics more often than nonanxious individuals. GAD may be maintained by meta-cognitive beliefs about the functions and consequences of worry. These topics along with differences between worry, obsessions, and depressive rumination are examined in the chapter.

Keywords: clinical features; depressive rumination; diagnosis; epidemiology; generalized anxiety disorder; OCD; worry

Article.  6048 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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