Generalized Anxiety Disorder   

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a sub-type of anxiety disorder. It is characterized by persistent and chronic worrying, nervousness, and stress. It is not typically related to a particular thing or specific circumstance and influences all aspects of life. It is a feeling of fear and discomfort. 

Individuals who suffer from GAD find it challenging to control their GAD anxiety. They may worry more than what is necessary and assume the worst outcome to happen even if the thoughts and fears are irrational. The GAD disorder annually affects 6.8 million adults in the United States. Women are two times more likely to suffer from GAD disorder compared to men.  GAD disorder occurs gradually and can persist throughout life. 

GAD may involve difficulty in tolerating ambiguity and probability, and as a result, people with GAD try to plan or control situations. At times, people having GAD symptoms can struggle with physical diseases such as upset stomach and headaches. Most commonly GAD symptoms can come and go. 

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Signs and Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD disturbs the person’s thought process and it can also cause physical symptoms. Common GAD symptoms are: 

  • Unnecessary and constant tension
  • Impractical view of problems
  • Impatience or a feeling of being nervous
  • The feeling of being in trouble
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Palpitations (i.e. faster than normal heart rate)
  • Faster breathing rate
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Concentration issues
  • Nausea
  • Frequent need to go to the bathroom
  • Feeling lethargic or weak
  • Trouble while falling asleep or staying asleep for as long as desired
  • Trembling of hands and limbs
  • Being easily surprised
  • Swallowing issues

People having GAD disorder may also suffer from other types of anxiety disorders such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Phobias, depression, or addiction(s). 

Complications of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Complications of Generalized Anxiety Disorder can cause or worsen physical health conditions such as digestion or bowel diseases. It can also cause stomach ulcers, headaches, migraines, chronic pain, and other illnesses.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis – GAD Diagnosis

Mental health screening is done to diagnose GAD. A psychiatrist, psychologist, or other licensed mental health practitioner will take your psychosocial history and ask questions about GAD symptoms and how long you have had them.

A general physician may perform medical tests to determine if there is an underlying disease or substance abuse that may be causing GAD symptoms. GAD anxiety has been linked to thyroid disorders, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), menopause, heart disease, etc.

The criteria for GAD must include at least three of the following Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms: restlessness, fatigue, concentration issues, irritability, sleeping difficulties, and muscle tension.

Prevention of Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

The following are some behaviors that are helpful in the prevention of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: 

  • Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and good sleep patterns
  • Meditation and Yoga
  • Reducing the intake of caffeine products and unnecessary medications, for example, diet pills 
  • Talk to a professional trusted friend, family member, or partner about your fears, concerns, and worries.

Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder – GAD Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

CBT involves meeting a psychologist to change your thinking patterns and behaviors. It is considered a first-line treatment for generalized anxiety disorders and it can provide long-term relief of GAD symptoms. CBT sessions help to learn how to identify and control anxious thoughts. Therapists also teach ways to calm yourself down when upsetting thoughts arise.

Medicines for Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

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Anti-anxiety medications, which relax some of the physical and GAD symptoms. Some common anti-anxiety medicines for generalized anxiety disorders are Buspar and Vistaril. Benzodiazepine class drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan) can be addicting and are not prescribed as often. 

Anti-depressants work well as a long-term treatment for generalized anxiety disorders victims. Some common antidepressant medicines for generalized anxiety disorders are citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft), etc.

Your doctor may prescribe both an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication depending on the severity of your GAD symptoms.