Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Quiz

If you worry excessively, or often feel tense and anxious for no specific reason, then you may be experiencing the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

GAD is an anxiety disorder that involves persistent chronic worrying, nervousness, and tension. It’s a condition that is mentally and physically exhausting—a real drain on your energy.

The good news is that Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be successfully treated.

No matter how overwhelmed you may feel right now, it’s possible to free yourself from chronic worrying. You can learn to calm your mind, deeply relax your body, and restore natural peace and joy.

Here you’ll learn about the signs and symptoms, causes and risk factors, and treatment options for Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Take Our General Anxiety Disorder Self-Test

Curious to see if you may be experiencing the symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder? This test may serve you as a valuable assessment.

This test is not a diagnostic tool, nor is it intended to replace a proper diagnosis. Use it only for informational purposes. Mental health conditions should only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional or doctor. Regardless of your results from our assessment, you should speak to a doctor about your mental health.

What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder involves persistent feelings of anxiety, nervousness, or dread that aren’t related to any specific event, and that interfere with your life activities.

You may expect disaster to strike at any moment. Or be excessively worried about your health, family, finances, school, or work.

Anxious thoughts may repeat over and over in your mind—like a hamster on a treadmill. As soon as one worrisome thought goes away, another one takes its place.

You may feel anxious most days; and have a hard time recalling the last time that you felt truly relaxed and at ease.

Do I Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at certain times in their life. For instance, you may feel worried about an upcoming exam at school; or about having a job interview; or having relatives visit for the holidays.

In such situations, feeling a bit anxious or stressed out can be perfectly normal.

But if your feelings of anxiety are more constant and interfere with your ability to relax and function effectively in your life, then you may have GAD.

GAD vs. Phobias or Panic Attacks

What’s the difference between GAD, phobias, and panic attacks?

phobia involves a fear that is connected to a specific thing or situation. In contrast, the anxiety of GAD is diffuse: It’s a general feeling of dread or unease that infuses every aspect of your life.

The anxiety associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder tends to be less intense than a panic attack. But it’s more pervasive and long-lasting, severely impeding your ability to feel at ease and relaxed.

The Difference Between Normal Worry and GAD

You may be wondering: What’s the difference between normal worry or concern and Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

This difference hinges on the distinction between occasional reasonable worry and anxiety that is excessive, persistent, irrational, intrusive and disruptive to your life.

Occasional fears, doubts, concerns, and worries are a normal part of life. It’s natural to be anxious about an upcoming medical exam, or to worry about your finances in the face of unexpected bills. And, of course, if there’s an imminent physical danger—say, a large truck veering into your lane—it’s completely natural for your body and mind to respond, in that moment.

When you experience such a challenge, a sense of potential danger will activate your body’s sympathetic nervous system: the flight-fight-freeze mechanism designed to help keep you safe. Your breathing becomes more rapid. Your heart beats faster, sending more blood to the muscles—which tense in readiness for movement. All this is natural, and a very good thing.

But once that danger—the challenging situation—has been resolved, a healthy human body returns to the rest-and-digest parasympathetic mode of functioning.

If you suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, then this healthy balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic functioning of the nervous system may be disrupted—keeping you stuck in the flight-fight-freeze mode. Feelings of apprehension, tension and anxiety happen for no specific reason.

Normal worry

In summary—worry, concern, or caution that is normal and healthy:

  • Doesn’t get in the way of your activities/responsibilities.
  • Doesn’t cause significant distress.
  • Can be controlled and alleviated.
  • Is limited to a small number of specific, realistic concerns.
  • Involves anxious thoughts/feelings that last only for a short time.

GAD worry

Worry that may be a symptom of GAD:

  • Is uncontrollable and unrelenting.
  • Disrupts your family, social, or work life.
  • Is intensely stressful and upsetting.
  • Spans a wide variety of topics or is entirely free-floating.
  • Involves thoughts/feelings of worst-case scenarios.
  • Has lasted every day for at least six months.

Signs & Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Not everyone with generalized anxiety disorder has the same symptoms, but most people experience a combination of physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms.

Psychological symptoms of GAD

Psychological symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder may include:

  • Troubling and free-floating worry.
  • Feeling restless, irritable, or on edge.
  • A pervasive feeling of apprehension, dread, or impending doom.
  • Anxious thoughts repeatedly spinning through your mind.
  • Feeling like your anxiety is uncontrollable.
  • Intrusive thoughts about things that make you anxious.
  • Inability to tolerate uncertainty.
  • Perceiving situations as more threatening than they are.
  • Difficulty in letting go of worries.

Behavioral symptoms of GAD

Behavioral symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder may include:

  • Trouble concentrating or focusing.
  • The feeling of your mind “going blank.”
  • Being easily startled.
  • Inability to relax, enjoy quiet time, or be alone.
  • Putting things off because you feel overwhelmed.
  • Avoiding people or events that make you anxious.
  • Difficulty dealing with uncertain situations.
  • Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision.
  • Overthinking plans. 
  • Dwelling on worst-case scenarios.

Physical symptoms of GAD

Physical symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder may include:

  • Feeling tense, edgy, restless, or jumpy.
  • Muscle tightness or body aches.
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Digestive problems such as stomachache, cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Headache.
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Increased perspiration (even without exertion).
  • Trouble swallowing due to dry mouth.
  • Feeling shaky, twitchy, or trembling.
  • Sweaty palms.
  • Numbness or tingling in different parts of the body.
  • Frequent urination.

Causes & Risk Factors for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

What Causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

The exact cause of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is not fully understood.

However, there are several factors that—alone or in combination—can play a role in the onset of GAD. Some of these are environmental, some are genetic, and others are physiological. For instance:

  • An imbalance or abnormality in the brain of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, noradrenaline, or gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—that are responsible for the control and regulation of mood.
  • A family history of anxiety: You’re around five times more likely to develop GAD if you have a close relative with the condition.
  • A history of traumatic experiences, such as birth trauma, child abuse, domestic violence, or bullying.
  • Having a long-term health condition, such as arthritis, thyroid problems, or heart arrhythmias.
  • Excessive use of caffeine or tobacco, which can make existing anxiety worse. Having a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • GAD is more common in women than in men.

But many people develop GAD for no identifiable reason.

Treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Effective treatment for GAD may include psychotherapy, medication and/or lifestyle changes.


If you’re experiencing the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, your first step should be to contact a mental health professional. Therapies that have proven successful in the treatment of GAD include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)


Your mental health professional may suggest medication as a temporary strategy to help relieve symptoms, at the onset of the treatment process. The types of medication that a psychiatrist is most likely to prescribe for Generalized Anxiety Disorder include:

  • Buspirone
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antidepressants

While medication can be a helpful tool, the key to long-term success in resolving GAD is usually therapy in conjunction with lifestyle changes.

Self-Care & Healthy Habits

Lifestyle changes can play a central role in healing GAD. Some of the healthy habits and self-care strategies that will be useful to cultivate include:  

  • Maintaining a support system of people who you can talk with about your worries and concerns. This may include attending support groups with others who also suffer from GAD.
  • Cultivating a healthy, balanced lifestyle—by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, limiting caffeine, and avoiding nicotine (cigarettes) and alcohol. Drink matcha tea instead of coffee for a natural pick-me-up. Enjoy kombucha, celery juice or chamomile tea rather than alcohol, for their healthy calming effects.
  • Exercising daily—walking, running, swimming, biking, dancing, weight-training are just a few examples. Exercise relieves tension by reducing stress hormones; and increases levels of feel-good neurochemicals such as serotonin and endorphins—making it a wonderfully effective and completely natural anti-anxiety strategy.
  • Learning to calm your nervous system with relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or restorative yoga.


National Insititute of National Health 

Harvard Health Publishing 


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