Generalized anxiety disorder is classified as a chronic (which will last around six months) excessive anxiety and worry about a lot of things and activities/events that are tough to control. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), GAD, having a lifetime prevalence rates of 5.7% approximately is one of the most common anxiety disorders (National Comorbidity Survey-Replication). Generalized anxiety disorder is also associated with various somatic complaints that can take you to high cost of medical testing and treatment. It was also observed that, GAD is responsible for low productivity and increased indirect costs in the workplace. It may also be a chance for other co-morbid conditions such as alcohol-related disorders and other anxiety disorders (Dr. Roy).
Life-threatening GAD pathology has been associated with health care utilization, interpersonal functioning and disability in areas of self-care. Timely identification and providing appropriate management of therapies could have a lot of benefits, including disability status, reducing individual distress, associated cost of GAD to society and overall health care usage (Dr. Ruiz). A score of ten or higher on the GAD-7 scale represents a reasonable threshold to identify generalized anxiety disorder cases. Scale value of 5,10, and 15 might also be explained as mild, moderate, and severe levels of anxiety. The GAD-7 may also have specific use in severity assessment and monitoring change with time.
Case Study to evaluate GAD-7 reliability and validity: A study was performed on 2740 adult patients in various primary care clinics in the USA. A total of 965 patients had a telephone interview with a professional and the rest have completed the study with a mental health professional directly. GAD scale diagnoses were then compared with individual diagnoses made by mental health professionals. The 7-item GAD scale was found to have good reliability and procedural validity. A threshold was also identified that optimized specificity (82%) and sensitivity (89%). Higher scores on the scale were found to be associated with various domains of functional impairment. Although generalized anxiety disorder and depression symptoms frequently happened together, factor analysis suggested them as separate dimensions. Moreover, depression and GAD symptoms had separate but individual effects on disability and functional impairment. There was significant association between self-report GAD-7 and mental health professional administered versions of the scale. (Dr. Spitzer).
The GAD-7 (a 7 item anxiety scale) is a beneficial tool for identifying probable cases of generalized anxiety disorders with strong criterion validity. The GAD-7 scale is also a wonderful severity measure as increasing GAD-7 scores are highly associated with functional impairment and disability.