The frequency and severity of generalized anxiety disorder symptoms. Toward a less cumbersome conceptualization.
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The frequency and severity of the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were determined in a sample of 49 patients with the DSM-III-R diagnosis of GAD. The frequency of the symptoms was considered to meet the DSM-III-R requirement of "often" if the symptoms were present for at least 3 days in every week over a 6-month period. The severity of the symptoms was rated on a 5-point scale. Seven symptoms, all of which belong to the clusters of motor tension and vigilance and scanning, were identified as both frequent and at least moderate in terms of their intensity. They were provisionally designated as the "criterion symptoms" of GAD, in contrast to the symptoms of autonomic hyperactivity, which were found to be less frequent and, especially, less intense. A more simplified conceptualization of GAD was proposed on the basis of these findings.