Generalized worry disorder: A review of DSM-IV generalized anxiety disorder and options for DSM-V

Gavin Andrews, Megan J. Hobbs, Thomas D. Borkovec, Katja Beesdo, Michelle G. Craske, Richard G. Heimberg, Ronald M. Rapee, Ayelet Meron Ruscio, Melinda A. Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


Background: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has undergone a series of substantial classificatory changes since its first inclusion in DSM-III. The majority of these revisions have been in response to its poor inter-rater reliability and concerns that it may lack diagnostic validity. This article provides options for the revision of the DSMIV GAD criteria for DSM-V. Method: First, searches were conducted to identify the evidence that previous DSM Work Groups relied upon when revising the DSM-III-R GAD and the overanxious disorder classifications. Second, the literature pertaining to the DSM-IV criteria for GAD was examined. Conclusions: The review presents a number of options to be considered for DSM-V. One option is for GAD to be re-labeled in DSM-V as generalized worry disorder. This would reflect its hallmark feature. Proposed revisions would result in a disorder that is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry generalized to a number of events or activities for 3 months or more. Worry acts as a cognitive coping strategy that manifests in avoidant behaviors. The reliability and validity of the proposed changes could be investigated in DSM-V validity tests and field trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-147
Number of pages14
JournalDepression and anxiety
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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