How Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) & Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are different?

Earlier, both Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) were considered anxiety disorders. Earlier editions of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), a diagnostic reference guide used by mental health professionals to identify different psychiatric conditions, classified GAD and OCD within the same section. However, the fifth edition of the DSM published in May 2013, separated GAD and OCD into different sections. GAD remains in the anxiety disorders section, while OCD is now classified under a section called Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Conditions.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):

Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects mental health as well as physical health. People who have GAD might be experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms for at least six months:

  • Constant worry about something

  • Inability to relax

  • Muscle tightness or body aches

  • Feeling tense

  • Avoiding stressful conditions

  • Lack of concentration and inability to focus

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Unable to sleep

  • Feeling restless

  • Stomach aches, nausea, and diarrhea

  • Getting easily tired

  • Heart palpitations

  • Sweating and dry mouth

  • Having difficulty breathing and

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy

  • Cold chills or hot flashes

  • Numbness or tingling sensations

  • Persistent irritability

Along with the symptoms mentioned above, you must also be experiencing at least three of these symptoms, irritability, muscle tension, trouble concentrating, irregular sleep, getting tired quickly, or feeling restless.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

The signs and symptoms of OCD can vary in intensity. Common symptoms and compulsion signs and symptoms people might experience in OCD include:

  • Patterned counting behaviors

  • Continually checking the stove and doors

  • Excessive hand washing, often leading to hands becoming raw and even bleed.

  • Following strict routines

  • Collecting certain items

  • Repeating a phrase to yourself

  • Ordering and arranging things in a precise and symmetrical way


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):

A combination of several factors causes GAD. The exact cause is still unknown. Several researchers suggest the following reasons:

  • Overactivity in regions of the brain responsible for emotions and behavior

  • An imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are responsible for controlling and regulating the mood.

  • People who have a close relative with GAD are five times more likely to develop the condition.

  • Experiencing trauma, domestic violence, child abuse, or bullying.

  • Having a painful chronic health condition, such as arthritis.

  • Excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol in the past.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

Like GAD, doctors and mental health professionals have been unable to define the exact causes of OCD. However, they believe genetics and environmental factors play a role in the occurrence of OCD.

  • Researches show that the likelihood of developing OCD increases if first-degree relatives also have the condition. The possibility of someone developing OCD also increases if the first-degree relative developed OCD at an early age.

  • People who have OCD also have different brain structures from individuals who don’t have OCD, including abnormalities in the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain in OCD patients.

  • Environmental factors that can increase your chances of developing OCD include experiencing physical or sexual abuse during childhood or other types of trauma.


The difference between GAD and OCD can be understood by understanding the difference in behavior exhibited by people who have GAD and people who have OCD. People who have GAD don’t experience a compulsion to do something to ease their Anxiety. Whereas, people who have OCD use repetitive behaviors to alleviate their stress and Anxiety. Even if people who have GAD experience a compulsion to act, the intensity of compulsion is not the same as experienced during OCD.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for OCD as well as GAD. However, the specific CBT used for GAD treatment is substantively different than the CBT technique used for OCD treatment.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):

Psychotherapy and Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are standard treatment options. These therapies can help people who have GAD in coping, managing, and reducing GAD symptoms. Medications are also commonly used for treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The most common types of medicines prescribed to people who have GAD include anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and in a few cases, sedatives. Anti-depressants are generally used to treat depression prove useful in the treatment of anxiety as well.

People who have GAD are also advised to maintain a healthy lifestyle, excercise regularly, limit the consumption of caffeine, eating a healthy & balanced diet, and doing yoga & meditation.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

Like GAD, the most common treatment options for obsessive-compulsive disorder are medication and psychotherapy, or a combination of both. People who have OCD are generally prescribed serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to control and manage OCD symptoms. In a few cases, antipsychotics can also be prescribed to treat OCD. Or a combination of anti-depressants and antipsychotics. It can take several weeks or even months to have a full effect on your symptoms.


People who have GAD don’t have OCD, while people who have OCD can also have GAD. It is important to remember that stress tends to increase the symptoms of both GAD and OCD.


It is quite uncommon for people who have GAD to have another mental health condition during their lifetime. However, it is not unusual to experience depression with GAD. Depression is the most co-occurring mental health condition. Some people can experience co-occurring GAD and OCD.

The treatments for GAD and OCD can overlap as well. Several medications and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (CBT) help treat GAD as well as OCD.


For effective treatment, a clear distinction between GAD and OCD is crucial. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, and you are unsure of the condition, you can participate in paid clinical trials.

Convincing people to participate in paid clinical trials can be complicated. Several factors can influence the decision to participate in a clinical trial, the most prominent being whether you wish to contribute to the advancement of medications.

Your participation in paid clinical trials does not only benefit other patients and prospect treatments for several diseases, but you can also get early access to medicines that are not yet available for the general public. You are also financially compensated for your time and effort.

Your participation in a clinical trial can help in medical advancement, and clinical research studies cannot be conducted without you. If you are someone living with Anxiety, then you can participate in Anxiety clinical trials, California.




620 views0 comments