GAD-7 is a questionnaire that is used to help assess the presence and severity of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). There are 7 questions (hence the name GAD-7) which ask about different symptoms and how often you experience them. The questions ask how often you have been bothered by these symptoms over the previous 2 weeks:
Feeling anxious, nervous or on edge
Not being able to stop, or control, worrying
Worrying too much about different things
Being so restless that it’s hard to sit still
Becoming easily irritable or annoyed
Feeling that something awful might happen.
The score is calculated by assigning scores of 0, 1, 2, and 3, to the response categories of “not at all,” “several days,” “more than half the days,” and “nearly every day,” respectively. GAD-7 total score for the seven items ranges from 0 to 21. Scores of 0-5 show mild anxiety, 6-10 moderate, 11-15 moderately severe anxiety and 15-21 severe anxiety
Anxiety is a feeling that occurs when someone feels under threat or stress. It is a natural response to a threat that actually can at times be helpful and has helped with the survival of humans across the ages. However, if it is excessive, persistent or affecting people's daily life then it may be an anxiety disorder. Generalised anxiety disorder is characterised by anxiety around lots of different things (usually everyday occurrences) rather than anxiety relating to one specific thing or situation.
You can take the GAD-7 questionnaire yourself but it is usually best done after discussion with your doctor or other healthcare professional as then they can help talk through the results, and what support or help may be right for you. Doctors or other healthcare professionals use the GAD-7 questionnaire for screening for generalised anxiety disorder or for monitoring people already diagnosed with GAD to see any changes over time. The questionnaire can also be used to assess or monitor the severity of other forms of anxiety too.
As well as the GAD-7 questionnaire, the doctor will want to know about your medical history and more details about your current symptoms including how long you have had them. If the doctor feels it is necessary they may also do some blood tests as some medical conditions can contribute to symptoms of anxiety.
Depending on the GAD-7 score and along with the doctor’s assessment, if your generalised anxiety disorder falls into the mild category, the doctor may discuss any relevant lifestyle changes and then monitor how you progress. They may also add in a talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which aims to help you learn about your thoughts, how they affect you, make you feel, and how to process and adapt those thoughts. The doctor will keep an eye on how you are doing and whether these interventions are helping
If you have prolonged or severe generalised anxiety the doctor may prescribe you a medication to help with the symptoms, or recommend you see a clinical psychologist who can help you explore the anxiety and methods to help control it. There are a variety of medications that can help with anxiety and the doctor will discuss the options with you.
Your fitness to work will depend on the severity of anxiety. The doctor will assess this and discuss it with you.
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