Is GAD A Mood Disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the persistent worry that affects the day to day activities. This can also be accompanied by other physical symptoms. The persistent worry can be about work, family issues or even minor problems or daily chores. Most of the time an event someone else would not worry so much.

GAD affects about 3.1% (6.8 million people) of the US population, but only 43.2% of that receives treatment. GAD is seen more in females (3.7 to 7.1%) than in males (4.1 to 6.0%). A study done on Europe found out that the 12-month prevalence is 1.7 to 3.4% and the life time prevalence is 4.3 to 5.9%. GAD is commonly seen in the community and in the clinical setting.

Is GAD A Mood Disorder?

Well, generalized anxiety disorder is not classified as a mood disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). It is classified under the anxiety disorders.

The diagnosis of GAD is made on the following criteria:

  • Excessive anxiety or worry that is present at least for 6 months on various activities
  • The inability to control these symptoms
  • At least 3 of the following should be present
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness, feeling of on the edge
  • Problems in concentrating
  • Feeling of fatigue and tired
  • Sleeping problems (difficulty in falling asleep, maintain the sleep or unsatisfied sleep)
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty in normal functioning due to the symptoms
  • These symptoms are not a result of drugs, medications or other medical disease
  • The symptoms do not fit any other psychiatric disorder

The features present in GAD are often seen in major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders. It has more similarities to major depressive disorder than the other disorders.

Various studies have done on this to explain this, according to “Diagnostic Overlap of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder in a Primary Care Sample”, four of the criteria used to diagnose GAD is also present in the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder. The four features are restlessness, feeling of fatigue and tired; sleeping problems and difficulty in concentrating. All these features are present in GAD and major depressive disorder (MDD). However, there is a common and a unique component in both the disorders. The common component is the extreme distress level which is seen in booth entities. The unique component in GAD is the excess worry whereas in the MDD it is the anhedonia (lack of interest in pleasurable activities).

The study also says that there might be a genetic correlation between GAD and MDD. Research have been done on siblings who were grown up in different families and in different environments who had GAD and/or MDD. This suggest that there might be a genetic component contributing to the cause of GAD and MDD.

Some studies have suggested that GAD and mood disorders should be classified in a different entity in the DSM-5, although it is still categorized as an anxiety disorder in the DSM-5. These suggestions are done because most of the time GAD occurs concurrently with MDD. It is hard to differentiate whether the anxiety and worry are part of depression or is it really due to an anxiety disorder.

Conclusion

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the persistent worry that affects the day to day activities. GAD affects about 3.1% (6.8 million people) of the US population, but only 43.2% of that receive treatment. GAD is not classified as a mood disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). It is classified under the anxiety disorders. The features present in GAD is often seen in major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders. It has more similarities to major depressive disorder than the other disorders. Some studies have suggested that GAD and mood disorders should be classified in a different entity in the DSM-5, although it is still categorized as an anxiety disorder in the DSM-5. These suggestions are done because most of the time GAD occurs concurrently with MDD. It is hard to differentiate whether the anxiety and worry are part of the mood disorder or is it really due to an anxiety disorder.

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