Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. People with the disorder, which is also referred to as GAD, experience exaggerated worry and tension, often expecting the worst, even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety.They don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and feel it is beyond their control, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.

GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected. The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.

Like other anxiety disorder, GAD is treatable. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective for many people, helping them to identify, understand, and modify faulty thinking and behavior patterns. This enables people with GAD to learn to control their worry. Some with GAD also take medication. Relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, exercise, and other alternative treatments may also become part of a treatment plan. Other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse often accompany GAD, which rarely occurs alone; co-occurring conditions must also be treated with appropriate therapies.

When their anxiety level is mild, people with GAD can function socially and are gainfully employed. Although they may avoid some situations because they have the disorder, some people can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities when their anxiety is severe.

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include the following:

• Muscle Tensions

• Fatigue

• Restlessness

• Difficulty Sleeping

• Irritability

• Edginess

• Gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea

Cognitive symptoms of anxiety include the following:

• Excessive anxiety and worry

• Difficulty controlling worry

• Difficulty concentrating

• Irritability

Physical symptoms often misunderstood as medical concerns.

• Muscle Tensions

• Fatigue

• Restlessness

• Difficulty Sleeping

• Gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea

• Heart palpitations

• Shortness of breath

• Chest heaviness