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What is the GAD-7?

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Excessive worrying. Trouble concentrating. Shortness of breath. Heart racing.

These are just some of the symptoms you might experience when feeling heightened anxiety. 

Moments of anxiety are a normal part of the human experience — think the night before a big exam, wedding day jitters, or the moment after getting unexpected news. 

An anxiety disorder is when prolonged worrying or fear about everyday circumstances becomes a frequent occurrence or part of your daily mood. 

How can you tell the difference between the two? With SonderMind, you’ll be given several tools to measure and track your symptoms over time. The GAD-7 is one of those tools. 

In this article, we’ll explain what the GAD-7 is and how your therapist can use it to diagnose anxiety and evaluate your symptoms. 

What exactly does the GAD-7 measure? 

The GAD-7 is a clinical questionnaire (CQ), or survey, that stands for ‘Generalized Anxiety Disorder.’ It is used to assess symptom categories associated with stress or anxiety. The survey asks you to reflect on the last two weeks and take note of how often you’ve felt bothered, nervous, anxious, worried, or restless, among other symptoms of stress.

Over time, your therapist will be able to use your results to better understand the frequency, intensity, and impact of symptoms you might be experiencing. 

The GAD-7 is scored on a 21 point scale, ranging from no symptoms to severe symptoms: 

  • 0-4: no notable anxiety symptoms
  • 5-9: mild anxiety symptoms
  • 10-14: moderate anxiety symptoms
  • 15+: severe anxiety symptoms

What will my therapist do with my GAD-7 score?

Depending on your score, your therapist may: 

  • Discuss changes in your symptoms
  • Adjust your treatment plan (such as the frequency of your therapy appointments)
  • Recommend additional treatment if appropriate 
  • Provide new resources (like worksheets or breathing exercises)

Only licensed professionals (like your therapist or doctor) should evaluate your results and provide details on the next steps of your treatment plan. 

Is the GAD-7 a reliable screener?

Yes, the GAD-7 is a widely used and well-researched tool to assess symptoms of anxiety and stress.

The GAD-7 can help you facilitate honest conversations with your therapist. Research shows that when people can talk openly with their therapist, they feel better and actually get better, faster. 

For more information, visit these additional resources:


If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself, do not use this site. Call 911 or use one of these emergency resources.

Last Updated:
Published:
First Published:
October 15, 2021

Sources:

Brown J.,  Chalk M. B., Duncan B. L., Miller, S., Sorrel R. (2006). Using Formal Client Feedback to Improve Retention and Outcome: Making Ongoing, Real-time Assessment Feasible. Journal of Brief Therapy, 5–22. https://www.scottdmiller.com/wp-content/uploads/1%20Using%20Formal%20Client%20Feedback.pdf  


Mayo Clinic. (2018, May 4). Anxiety disorders. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961 


Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC). (n.d.) GAD-7 [Fact sheet].  U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.https://www.mirecc.va.gov/cih-visn2/Documents/Clinical/GAD_with_Info_Sheet.pdf

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