Calusa Recovery

Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder a Disability?


Any particular trait that stops you from performing at your best is a sign of disorder in your system and needs to be treated on a priority basis.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one such condition where every normal situation looks like a tedious task and needs extra attention to perform your best at it. People with GAD often feel disturbed, unsafe, and threatened by people around them which is normally safe and accepting for other people.

One of the most common mental health disorders is GAD which affects around 30% of individuals at some point and creates an imbalance in their normal lives.

American Psychiatric Association defines GAD as a feeling of anxiety and stress that interferes with your daily life for at least 6 months.  

How does GAD affect an individual?

It is believed that most people with anxiety can work fine at their jobs, spend time with their close ones, and still not feel at ease with themselves. But when this disorder turns into a disability, it becomes difficult for an individual to be the best version of themselves in such social situations.

  • People with GAD often find it difficult to maintain strong relationships with family and friends due to various factors and in some cases, people around the sufferer don’t cooperate to take the individual to normal functioning. 
  • If your mental health isn’t stable, giving your 100% at work becomes challenging and hence hampers your day-to-day tasks. 
  • Handling large workloads becomes a tedious task and it adds to your anxiety, stress, and trauma of not completing the tasks on time.

Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder a disability?

GAD classifies for a disability if it meets Social Security Administration (SSA’s) Blue Book criteria and they won’t believe you for your word. You need to closely work with healthcare and law professionals to document your condition and prove that your anxiety has reached a stage where it’s a disability. Here are the three steps for going about it:

You have an anxiety disorder 

If you have experienced anxiety disorder, you must be facing at least 3 of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling restless where you are not at peace with who you are and constantly questioning  your existence
  • Sudden and elongated feelings of fatigue
  • Lack of ability to concentrate on work, conversations, and your life in general
  • Not able to fall or stay asleep resulting in a bad mood, headache, and hormonal imbalance in the morning
  • Getting irritated on minor discomfort frequently and almost in every other situation
  • Muscle tension which makes your muscles soar and difficult to move

Your anxiety is limiting your mental disabilities

SSA analyses if anxiety is limiting your mental disability based on these four factors:

  • Understanding, remembering, and applying various pieces of information
  • Comfortable interacting with others
  • Focusing on tasks and the rate of completing them
  • Ability to adapt to changes and take care of yourself in every situation

Medical reports should verify that you have at least one of the above traits and hence your mental abilities are limited in one or multiple areas of functioning.

You have a long-term anxiety

You can have valid medical documents to show that your anxiety is serious and has continued for at least two years and you have taken all types of possible treatments to cure the situation.

Your reports and your experiences can collectively determine that despite all the efforts personally and professionally, you are not able to adapt to your surroundings and deal with absolutely new situations. This can be a case of relapse when the person is kept in the old environment again. However, an underlying condition is you should be serious about the treatment at all points in time, putting genuine efforts to make it work and make a claim if any of the procedures are not working in any scenario.

Effective Treatment Methods

Apart from incorporating lifestyle changes, here are some professional ways to treat GAD:

  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe mood stabilizers; antidepressants; and anti-anxiety medications.  It may take some time (and trial and error) for you and your doctors to find the appropriate medication or medications. 
  • Therapy: Therapy is one of the most effective methods to treat any mental health problem. Various types of therapies like individual counseling, CBT, and interpersonal and social rhythm therapy help you manage your emotions yourself. 
  • Individual counseling: Helps you address specific problem areas, recognize your symptoms, and manage your stress 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Helps you identify negative thoughts, change your behaviors, and develop coping strategies 
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy: Helps you establish a routine for daily activities such as sleeping, eating, diet, and exercise 
  • Day Treatment Programs: Your doctor may recommend an outpatient day treatment program to help you recognize and control your symptoms.

FAQs: Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder a disability?

How serious is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

A regularly occurring trait that limits you from getting to your full potential is a serious issue to be addressed. GAD is one such disorder that is difficult to notice and often seems natural but is as serious as people committing suicide due to extreme anxiety and stress issues.

Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder lifelong?

If left untreated, it becomes severe with time. Studies show that GAD can last for as long as 20 years and have several moderate relapse rates post-remission.

At what age do people get Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Biology, environment, and life experiences account for the majority of anxiety cases. Technically speaking, this feeling of anxiety can occur in people at any age but according to some research studies, the median range of onset is 30 years but varies across ages. 


This was our attempt to clarify the question, “Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder a disability?” Every disorder differs from person to person. The intensity of symptoms and how much they interfere with daily activities are often used to determine the level of disability, even though GAD can have a major influence on a person’s functioning and quality of life. 

The possibility of GAD as a disability emphasizes the value of mental health education and support networks. In the end, encouraging empathy and understanding can help build a society that is more accepting and caring for people who are overcoming the difficulties associated with having generalized anxiety disorder.

At Calusa Recovery, various treatment modalities are offered that are centered around finding the best path to your recovery and life. We offer a broad range of treatment programs, including intensive inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as holistically based programs and an adventure-based experiential program.

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