Generalized anxiety disorder occurs across the lifespan and is defined as excessive worry on most days. Typically generalized anxiety disorder involves worry about many areas in life, but children and adolescents are more likely to worry about school performance and family concerns more often than their peers. In fact, school refusal may be one of the most common manifestations of generalized anxiety disorder. Worries can also encompass concerns about safety, safety of their family, world events, friends, peer relationships and appearance.
In addition to excessive worry about various areas in life, generalized anxiety disorder is also associated with an overwhelming sense of fear or dread about hypothetical or future events, the “what-ifs” of the world. Physical symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorder include sleep disturbance, muscle tension, frequent stomach aches and headaches. Irritability can also be an associated symptom.