Fact sheet on general anxiety disorder and comorbid disorders with Aspergers and Autism, two Autism Spectrum Disorders


General anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry about everyday things. It can be associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders such as Asperger's syndrome and autism, where anxiety may reach a point that is officially diagnosed as General anxiety disorder.


The frequency, intensity, and duration of the worry are disproportionate to the actual source of worry, and such worry often interferes with daily functioning. It affects approximately 5% of the total population, yet is more prevalent in women and much more prevalent in youth, where 12% to 20% are affected. People with general anxiety disorder often have a variety of symptoms such as tension, being startle easily, restlessness, hyperactivity, worrying, fear, and rumination.

In youth general anxiety disorder often leads too lower levels of social supports, academic underachievement, underemployment, substance use and high probability of obtaining other psychiatric disorders. General anxiety disorder differs from other anxiety disorders in the sense that there is no clear stimulus that elicits anxiety or was associated with how it began. It also lacks the clear avoidance and escape behaviors of phobias and unlike panic attacks associated with most disorders, general anxiety disorder stays fairly moderate in its anxiety levels.


Diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) looks at the following factors in establishing a diagnosis:
Excessive anxiety and worry
The person finds it difficult to control the worry.
• Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
• Being easily fatigued
• Irritability
• Muscle tension
• Sleep disturbance
• Excessive sweating.


Causes of General Anxiety Disorder

Some research suggests that general anxiety disorder may run in families, and it may also grow worse during stress. general anxiety disorder usually begins at an earlier age and symptoms may manifest themselves more slowly than in most other anxiety disorders. Some people with general anxiety disorder report onset in early adulthood, usually in response to a life stressor. Once general anxiety disorder develops, it is chronic.


Treatment of General Anxiety Disorder

Treatments for general anxiety disorder may include medications and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. A combination of the two has proved the most effective in alleviating symptoms; medication alone may reduce some anxiety but will not eliminate it entirely. Medications called SSRIs and SNRIs are commonly used to treat general anxiety disorder. Benzodiazepines are sometimes used in the short-term in order to alleviate extreme cases of anxiety, but they are not safe for continuous use because of the high risk of dependency.


Click here to read the stress management fact sheet for adults on the autism spectrum.

Click here to read the fact sheet for adults on the autism spectrum for managing handling panic attacks.


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Click here for the full range of Asperger's and autism fact sheets at www.autism-help.org
Click here to read an interview with Dr June Groden on reducing stress and anxiety in autitistic children

This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation. It is derivative of an autism and Asperger's syndrome-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org

General anxiety disorder can be a comorbid disorder associated with Autism and Aspergers syndrome