According to the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR, 2000) it states that “The essential feature of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is excessive anxiety and worry, occurring more days than not for a period of at least six months, about a number of events or activities”. This quote covers Criteria A. The text covers six criteria that should be included when making the diagnosis. Including Criteria A above, Criteria B, the person finds it challenging to control the worry. Criteria C must include at least three of the following - restlessness, easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbance. (In children only one of the above is needed.) Criteria D, the anxiety is not limited to disorders from the categories; Anxiety, Mood, Eating, Psychotic, Dissociative or Substance Use Disorders. Criteria E, the anxiety, worry or physical symptoms cause distress or impairment in social, occupational or other areas of normal functioning. And finally Criteria F, the disturbance is not directly due to substance abuse of medication, or a medical condition, and does not occur exclusively during a mood, psychotic or developmental disorder. This method is widely used today “Less than seventy precent of clinicians agreed with the DSM” (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011).
The earlier the treatment is started for generalized anxiety disorder the greater the possibility of a successful outcome. However, diagnosing GAD can be difficult because everyone has a level of normal anxiety (Hoehn-Saire & McLeod, 1999) and as it is also commonly found along side other illnesses such as drug use or social phobia. (Rickels & Schweizer, 2001) Generally, difficult incidents in one’s life can contribute to the development of GAD, but most of the time this anxiety develops gradually over time. Because of this, the treatment is not usually started at an early stage and therefore becomes a longer period of treatment as they seek help at a later stage (Rickels & Schweizer, 2001). As stated in the DSM-IV-TR, “the duration, intensity and frequency of their worry is out of proportion compared to the feared event itself” (DSM-IV-TR, 2000).
Cognitive Behavioral therapy and pharmacological measures have excelled in the treatment of GAD and yet very little research has been carried out in the other areas of treatment therapy, such as natural and alternative therapies, humanistic therapies, Psychoanalytic Therapy, and different movement therapies like Dance or Yoga therapy. Looking firstly at a research study conducted by Saeed, Bloch, and Antonacci (2008). The herb ‘kava’ (Piper methysticum) has shown to have more potential for benefit than harm in patients with GAD. This research goes on to suggest that other herbal remedies including Passionflower, Valerian, St. John's Wort or Sympathyl can be used for the treatment of anxiety and are currently based on inconsistent results because they have been researched in small and