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Introduction: Focus on Generalized Anxiety Disorder

James C. Ballenger, MD

Published: September 1, 2001

Article Abstract

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The sixth meeting of the International Consensus Group on Depression and Anxiety, held in Cape Town, South Africa, in March 2000, took as its subject generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is the most common anxiety disorder presenting in primary care. Although this prevalent disorder is a major public health problem with debilitating personal and economic consequences, it remains a relatively poorly understood condition. Our objective, as in earlier meetings, was to review what is known in the field and identify areas that require further research. GAD is a chronic, prevalent, and disabling disorder that is characterized by chronic generalized worry. It has a high prevalence rate in primary care compared with the general population, which suggests that GAD patients are high users of primary care resources. Affected patients are typically aged 35 to 45 years or older and often suffer from GAD for 5 to 10 years before diagnosis.

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