Generalized Anxiety Disorder: An OverviewAnxiety disorders affect many people across the globe. When it comes to generalized anxiety disorder, it is a constant worry. People may worry over anything: family, money, work, and health, and this worry is persistent and excessive. Some even feel that disaster is impending even if there is no real reason to believe it. Those with GAD cannot control worrying or have an extremely difficult time doing so.

Here is more about generalized anxiety disorder: what it is, who is affected, what its symptoms are, and what treatment options are available.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

GAD, or generalized anxiety disorder, is a condition that affects over 3 percent of the population in the United States, or approximately 7 million people. It is diagnosed if a person has at least three symptoms of GAD and the condition has lasted longer than six months.

Generalized anxiety disorder is worrying over something but amplified. Most people have worries, but someone with GAD worries incessantly. It can be overwhelming just making it through the day.

Those with generalized anxiety disorder can function just fine in society when their anxiety levels are mild or moderate. But those with extreme generalized anxiety disorder may find it more difficult to function on a daily basis.

Generalized anxiety disorder is different from phobias. For instance, those with generalized anxiety disorder worry over all kinds of things. Those with phobias are more specific. Someone with a phobia may be fearful of heights, spiders, flying, or other specific things or activities.

An example of excessive worry is perhaps hearing a news story of something that happened in another country and then worrying about your own family. Even though the likelihood is slim that the same thing might happen, someone with GAD may become anxious and fret over this event.

What Are the Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Persistent worrying — this also includes persistent anxiety about things that is out of proportion to the event
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Always thinking of the worst-case scenario
  • Always feeling restless or having difficulty relaxing
  • Overthinking plans
  • Not being able to stop worrying
  • Feeling like you can’t control your emotions and constant worry — nothing you do helps you to relax
  • Fear or problems with making decisions — always thinking it’s the wrong one
  • Constant feelings of dread or apprehension
  • No tolerance for uncertainty — needing to know what is going to happen and how it is going to happen
  • Inability to relax or enjoy quiet time
  • Avoidance of stressful situations

There are also physical symptoms that go along with generalized anxiety disorder including:

  • Fatigue or insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Trembling

Both adults and children experience generalized anxiety disorder. In children, however, the worries are often different. They may worry about grades, other schoolchildren, fitting in, and so on. But they may also have worries like adults, with being anxious over natural disasters, war, or the safety of their family members.

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Why Do People Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

There is no exact reason why someone gets generalized anxiety disorder. Some researchers claim that there are connections to a few things: biological factors, stressful life experiences, and genetic background. These may include family history, personality, development, brain chemistry, and how threats are perceived.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are risk factors that include some of what has been mentioned:

  • A person whose temperament is timid or negative or who avoids anything dangerous may be more prone to generalized anxiety disorder than others are.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder may run in families.
  • People with generalized anxiety disorder may have a history of significant life changes, traumatic or negative experiences during childhood, or a recent traumatic or negative event. Chronic medical illnesses or other mental health disorders may increase the risk of GAD.

Generalized anxiety disorder is sometimes part of a co-occurring disorder. This means that along with GAD, a person may also have panic disorders, phobias, substance abuse, depression, OCD, or PTSD.

What Kind of Treatment Options are Available?

Generalized anxiety disorder, like other anxiety disorders, has the most successful treatment with medication and therapy.

Medications

Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications are commonly prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder. Like any medication, they are not an instant fix and may take a few weeks to start to work. They also have a few side effects, like insomnia or headaches. Yet, these medications are found to be helpful for those with anxiety disorders.

Psychotherapy

Another helpful type of treatment is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. This is tailored so that the person better understands their reasoning and thoughts.

According to Psycom:

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on teaching you coping skills or mechanisms you can use to help you return to normal functioning and ease your feelings of anxiety. It is normally a short-term therapy and people who undergo this type of psychotherapy have found great results.

It is important for those with generalized anxiety disorder to take care of themselves. Exercising regularly, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, eating a healthy diet, and keeping a journal are all helpful forms of maintaining a less anxious lifestyle.

At Transformations, we create a treatment plan that is customized for each person. We don’t believe in a quick fix or cookie-cutter treatments. Instead, we have a variety of options including group therapy, individual therapy, and family therapy.

Our treatment centers also specialize in holistic therapy as well as experiential treatment. If you or someone you know has generalized anxiety disorder and would like to get help, please contact us and let us tailor a treatment plan.

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