"People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) worry excessively and uncontrollably about daily life events and activities. They often experience uncomfortable physical symptoms, including fatigue and sore muscles, and they can also have trouble sleeping and concentrating."
It means that unlike the expected worry or panic of an upcoming test, interview or say financial hardship (these are just some examples), people with GAD experience these feelings of worry on a daily basis with a variety of topics and events. The factors that set GAD apart from other anxiety disorders are the constant, intrusive, and excessive thoughts that people with GAD experience. The person may be well aware that these thoughts or worries are irrational or exaggerated, but can not stop them or control them. People with GAD, especially untreated, can have trouble maintaining jobs or commitments because this disorder affects their daily lives. Symptoms are felt emotionally, behaviorally, and physically.
There are of course a multitude of factors that researchers believe may lead to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. One is family history if you have someone in your close family who experiences GAD you could be more likely to be diagnosed. Your brain chemistry and biological make-up could have to do with it as well and how your amygdala or your brain's emotional control center processes feelings of fear and anxiety. Your environment can play a hand in the diagnosis as well if you are under excessive stress for a long period of time or experience trauma or abuse, especially in your childhood. The use of and withdrawal from addictive substances, including alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, can also worsen anxiety.
- Constant state of worry
- Not being able to relax or enjoy down/quiet time
- Muscle tightness, feeling tense or body aches
- Feeling overwhelmed and avoiding stressful situations
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing on things
- No tolerance for uncertainty – needing to know what is going to happen and how it is going to happen
- Indecisive, seeking approval
- Constant feelings of dread
- Inability to control constant worrying or emotions
- Not being able to sleep or problems sleeping
- Feeling jumpy, on edge, or restless
- Feeling nauseous, having an upset stomach/diarrhea
- Feeling tired or exhausted easily
- Heart palpitations – feeling like your heart is racing
- Trembling or shaking
- Sweating and dry mouth
- Having difficulty breathing and/or feeling like you are choking
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Cold chills or hot flashes
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Feeling like you have a lump in your throat
- Persistent irritability
Like many mental illnesses, a combination of a few different treatments will often be the most successful solution. Typically some form of psychotherapy or talk therapy will be recommended including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) where they look at helping you retrain your brain and thought patterns. Anti-anxiety medications may be introduced to lessen symptoms in the short term, however, they are highly addictive and not a long-term solution. These include drugs like Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax. Whereas antidepressants are recommended for a longer-term solution and can take up to six weeks to take full effect. These are usually SSRIs and can include but are not limited to drugs such as Celexa, Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Cymbalta and more. There are many other ways to help ensure you're staying on track and working on self-care to reduce symptoms and continue to lead your daily life. We'll cover these in the next blog about resources!
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5. What’s Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and How Do I Treat It?. (2019). Healthline. Retrieved 20 December 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder#treatment
6. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). (2018). HelpGuide.org. Retrieved 20 December 2019, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad.htm
7. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. (2019). Psycom.net - Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986. Retrieved 20 December 2019, from https://www.psycom.net/bookstore.anxiety.
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9. An Overview of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. (2019). Verywell Mind. Retrieved 20 December 2019, from https://www.verywellmind.com/generalized-anxiety-disorder-4157247