Often anxiety gets generalized to other situations, and can then become overwhelming or associated with life in general. Typically GAD develops over a period of time and may not be noticed until it is significant enough to cause problems with functioning.
As its name implies, GAD is evidenced by general feelings of anxiety such as mild heart palpitations, dizziness, and excessive worry. The symptoms are difficult to control for the individual and are not related to a specific event (such as in PTSD) and are not as severe as those found with Panic Disorder.
Medication and/or psychotherapy have been found to be helpful, especially therapy aimed at teaching the client how to gain control over the symptoms.
Prognosis is good for the more extreme symptoms, but those associated with underlying fears are more difficult to treat (such as excessive worry). Working through childhood issues can be helpful as these tend to get distorted as they follow us into adulthood (e.g., over-controlling parental styles, sexual abuse, childhood phobias).