Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person has prolonged and excessive anxiety that isn’t triggered by any obvious stressor. Many people experience some degree of anxiety from time to time, but generalized anxiety disorder is different because it affects a person’s daily life and lasts longer than six months. It often begins earlier than other types of anxiety disorders, usually around age 20. Read on to learn more about generalized anxiety disorder and its potential causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What is GAD?

GAD is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person has prolonged and excessive anxiety that isn’t triggered by any obvious stressor. Many people experience some degree of anxiety from time to time, but generalized anxiety disorder is different because it affects a person’s daily life and lasts longer than six months. It often begins earlier than other types of anxiety disorders, usually around age 20. Although everyone experiences some level of anxiety, people with generalized anxiety disorder have persistent and excessive worry that is out of proportion with any real threat in their lives. This worry can also be significantly impacting their quality of life. People with GAD often have trouble controlling the worry, and they may have related physical symptoms such as restlessness, muscle tension, fatigue, and problems sleeping.

Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

While researchers are still exploring the causes of GAD, there are a number of theories about what may lead to the disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is usually thought to be caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. Some possible causes of GAD include: – Genetics – Environmental Stressors – Brain Structures – Immune System – Hormones – Genetics – Environmental Stressors Some researchers believe that GAD runs in families. If one of your parents has GAD, you may be more likely to develop this condition yourself. If your parent or other close family member is diagnosed with GAD, you should talk to your doctor about getting screened and treated, too. Social factors might contribute to developing GAD. Traumas like the death of a loved one or the breakup of a romantic relationship can trigger anxiety disorders, as can financial troubles, poor work conditions, and other sources of stress. – Brain Structures – Immune System – Hormones Brain structures and the immune system play a role in all disorders. Brain structures are relatively stable, but they can be affected by certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which are impacted by a variety of things. The immune system can affect all disorders, and it changes over time. Hormones can be affected by diet, sleep, stress, injury, and other factors.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with generalized anxiety disorder often experience excessive worry and anxiety that is ongoing and out of proportion with any real threat in their lives. This worry can be cyclical, with periods of tension and release. The following are potential symptoms of GAD. This is not an exhaustive list, and the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder vary from person to person. – Restlessness and feeling keyed up or on edge – Being easily fatigued – Difficulty concentrating – Irritability – Sleeping too much or too little – Muscle tension – Dry mouth – Sweating – Hot flushes or shakiness – Avoidance of activities that were once enjoyable – Feeling of impending doom or dread

Treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder

First, it’s important to identify and name the problem. People with generalized anxiety disorder often don’t seek help because they get so caught up in their symptoms that they don’t recognize them for what they are. Having a loved one to be your advocate can be really helpful and can keep you on track to getting effective treatment. When you visit your doctor, bring along a list of your symptoms and concerns. Your doctor will likely ask you lots of questions and may refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most well-researched and effective treatment for GAD. It focuses on changing unhealthy and unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior. CBT often includes skills-based exercises that can help you identify and change negative thought patterns and develop healthier ways of reacting to stressful situations.

Final Words

Although it’s difficult to live with, generalized anxiety disorder is highly treatable. Once you receive a diagnosis and treatment, you can begin working towards living a fulfilling, anxiety-free life. Be sure to stay in contact with your doctor and follow their recommended treatment plan to the best of your ability. It may take some time to see positive results, but with dedication and determination, you will get better! If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, know that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with this condition, and there is help available to manage it. Start by educating yourself on anxiety and its symptoms, and make time for self-care. With these steps, you can make progress towards managing your anxiety and living a happier, healthier life.

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