Fast Five Quiz: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Stephen Soreff, MD


September 20, 2018

Multiple factors are thought to contribute to the development of GAD and to the broad category of anxiety disorders. Biologic, familial, and environmental factors are considered important. Genetic studies of pediatric anxiety disorders (including GAD) reveal heritability estimates from 20% to 65%, consistent with a significant genetic contribution. Genetic factors significantly influence risk for many anxiety disorders. Environmental factors such as early childhood trauma and living with an anxious parent or parents can also contribute to risk for later anxiety disorders.

In general, women are more likely to be affected by anxiety disorders than are men. Women have a higher incidence of GAD, panic disorder, specific phobia, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Behavioral inhibition, an early temperament associated with aversion to novel situations, has been found to be associated with later development of anxiety disorders. Discomfort with new situations and environment can also contribute. The onset for GAD is typically later than it is for other anxiety disorders. Although the actual onset has a large range, the median age of onset for GAD is 30 years.

For more on the etiology and epidemiology of anxiety disorders, read here.


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