Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Depression Research Unit (DRU)

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Anxiety Disorders

Herbal medicine


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common condition that is characterized by excessive worrying and anxious feeling. GAD is believed to affect nearly 6.8 million Americans every year. Individuals with GAD often feel edgy, nervous, uncomfortable, and jittery. Individuals with GAD may feel fretful with the feeling that something bad may occur, worry over minor or insignificant things, or worry about the future. These feelings may be accompanied by physical complaints such as insomnia, changes in appetite, muscle aches and pains, heart palpitations, sweating, and tension headaches.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common psychological disorders in the US. However, these anxiety disorders do not generally become a problem for most individuals unless the symptoms begin to interfere with work, school, or social aspects of daily life. Anxiety disorders are also believed to contribute to higher rates of substance abuse, and are associated with other medical disorders that have symptoms similar to GAD. This may cause diagnostic confusion for primary care providers.

Many studies have shown that there are effective therapies for GAD, including various numbers of medications and talk therapies. Moreover, there appear to be effective herbal and other alternative medicine remedies available for treating anxiety symptoms that may have fewer side effects than conventional anti-anxiety medication. However, these remedies have not been well studied using rigorous state of the art scientific methods.

Some ways to differentiate between normal worry and GAD include:


  • You are able to control your worrying
  • Your worries do no cause you significant distress
  • Your worries are about realistic concerns
  • You have only short stints of worrying
  • Your worrying is not debilitating to your everyday life


  • Your worrying interrupts your sleep, job, daily activities, social life
  • You are unable to control your worries
  • Your worries are extremely upsetting and nerve-racking
  • You worry almost every day for at least six months
  • You have physical symptoms associated with your worries




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