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Public Health Perspectives on Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Murray B. Stein, MD, MPH, FRCPC

Published: September 15, 2004

Article Abstract

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic condition characterized by worry and concomitantanxiety symptoms that cause extreme distress and/or interfere with function. The 12-month prevalenceof GAD in the general population ranges in studies from approximately 2% to 5%, with themajority of cases occurring comorbid with major depression. GAD is particularly prevalent in certainspecial populations, such as older adults, in whom it is the most common anxiety disorder. In clinicaland community studies, GAD emerges as a strong predictor of functional impairment, over and abovethat explained by major depression. These observations lead to the conclusion that current publichealth efforts focused on identification and treatment of major depression should be extended to includeGAD and other anxiety disorders.

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