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January 2011



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First Published Saturday, 15 November 2008

The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) has published a comprehensive 40 page toolkit “Understanding generalized anxiety disorder” to help people understand this debilitating disorder.


The publication provides up-to date information about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in both adults and children, its current treatments, and the effects of stigma on those living with the disorder. Through the information presented, the toolkit aims to educate and inform those with GAD, their physicians, families and friends, and the general public about a condition that affects the lives of millions of people, and results in marked disability and significantly impaired quality of life. In addition to the information about GAD, the toolkit also contains a list of national and local organization which can be contacted for further information and support.

Although common, generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most misunderstood mental health conditions due to its close association with other disorders,” said Stuart Montgomery, Imperial College School of Medicine, London. “It is up to all of us to raise awareness and understanding so that those with the condition can receive appropriate treatment.

A major focus is to raise awareness about this condition and consequently reduce the stigma associated with GAD, so that more people can seek and receive appropriate treatment. Currently it is thought that only around 50% of people with GAD seek treatment which may have masked the true incidence of the disorder. This may be partly due to the social stigma surrounding the condition, but also due to misdiagnoses such as normal stress and hypochondria.

GAD does not discriminate between ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds, with millions of people across the world living with its devastating symptoms. It is a syndrome of ongoing excessive anxiety and worry about every day matters. Physical symptoms include: fatigue, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, muscle tension and aches, trembling, irritability, sleep disturbances, sweating and hot flushes. It is often accompanied by depression or other anxiety disorders – and it has a substantial negative impact on quality of life, productivity at work, and healthcare costs. The disorder is common with a lifetime prevalence of around 8%.6 Currently, the causes of GAD are unknown, but it is thought that the levels of different neurotransmitters in the brain may play a role.

The GAD toolkit is produced by the WFMH and supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. It can be download in PDF format from:


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