Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects 4 to 6.8 million Americans, making GAD one of the most common anxiety disorders in the United States. While symptoms can be severe, with treatment generalized anxiety disorder can be successfully controlled.
Anxiety is a normal, and often helpful, response to stressful situations. Anxiety motivates people to drive safely, get to work on time, and be extra vigilant in dangerous circumstances.
People with generalized anxiety disorder, however, live in a state of constant worry and anxiety even when no cause for anxiety exists. Anxiety associated with GAD interferes with daily life on multiple levels. Signs of anxiety disorders can make day-to-day functioning almost impossible.
GAD and Symptoms of Anxiety Attacks
Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms are chronic: while there may be days when symptoms worsen or lessen, symptoms are almost always present. The sudden onset of anxiety that many people associate with symptoms of anxiety attacks bear more resemblance to panic attacks than GAD.
GAD is characterized by constant worry, tension and anxiety. People with generalized anxiety disorder are often aware that their anxiety is unwarranted or out of proportion to stressful events, but this knowledge does little to diminish the effect of the anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder causes a range of mental and physical symptoms, including:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive anxiety
- Frequent urination
- Hyperalert startle reflexes
- Muscle aches
- Sleep disturbances.
Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Exactly what triggers generalized anxiety disorder is unclear. Gender certainly increases the risk of GAD: twice as many women as men are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.
Genetics , chemical imbalances in the brain and lifestyle / environmental factors have all been suggested as possible causes of generalized anxiety disorder. Onset of GAD can occur at any stage of life, but the disorder develops most often between childhood and middle age.
Depression, Anxiety Disorders and GAD
Generalized anxiety disorder is often seen in combination with depression, anxiety disorders other than GAD, and substance abuse. GAD may present with obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attack symptoms, social anxiety or phobias.
Cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana abuse have all been linked to generalized anxiety disorder. A diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder without accompanying depression, anxiety disorders or substance abuse is considered unusual.
Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Fortunately generalized anxiety disorder symptoms respond well to proper treatment. Generalized anxiety disorder treatment includes the use of anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants. Talk therapy for generalized anxiety disorder teaches people coping strategies for dealing with anxiety and reducing stress levels. if GAD presents with depression or other secondary conditions both disorders must be addressed for relied of anxiety disorder symptoms.