People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience chronic and debilitating anxiety and worry daily without any real reason. Those affected by GAD often continually anticipate disaster or ruminate about issues such as health, money, family, work, and more. Physical symptoms often accompany anxiety and make it difficult for daily functioning. Although people with GAD are aware their anxiety is exaggerated, they are unable to remove their worries. GAD is diagnosed when excessive worrying lasts for at least a six-month period, however it can be treated successfully.
Symptoms of GAD
Below are some common symptoms:
• Worrying everyday without real reason
• Unable to control constant worries
• Recognizing this worrying is excessive
• Feeling on edge
• Unable to relax
• Feeling impatient/ irritable
• Difficulty concentrating
• Easily startled
• Difficulty falling or staying asleep
• Hard time swallowing
• Tired for no reason
• Muscle tension/aches
• Excessive sweating
• Shortness of breath
• Stomach aches
• Hot flashes
People with GAD can function in social settings and maintain a job when their anxiety levels are low, however when severe levels are present, this disorder can be debilitating and can interfere with some of the simplest daily functions.
Causes of GAD
GAD is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, however it is not known what the exact causes are. About twice as many women as men live with GAD and the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. GAD rarely occurs alone; it is often accompanied by other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse. It is believed that genes play a small role in developing this disorder.
Treatment commonly includes medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy. Additional treatments may be required when depression, other anxiety disorders, or substance abuse are also present.