What is Anxiety (GAD) Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is much more than the normal anxiety people experience day to day. It’s chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even though nothing seems to provoke it. Having this disorder means always anticipating disaster, often worrying excessively about health, money, family, or work. Sometimes, though, the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint. Simply the thought of getting through the day provokes anxiety.
People with generalized anxiety disorder can’t seem to shake their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. People with GAD also seem unable to relax. They often have trouble falling or staying asleep. Their worries are accompanied by physical symptoms, especially trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating, or hot flashes. They may feel lightheaded or out of breath. They
Many individuals with GAD startle more easily than other people. They tend to feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and sometimes suffer depression, too.
Usually the impairment associated with generalized anxiety disorder is mild and may feel nauseated or have to go to the bathroom frequently. Or they might feel as though they have a lump in the throat.
People with the disorder don’t feel too restricted in social settings or on the job. Unlike many other anxiety disorders, people with GAD don’t characteristically avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder. However, if severe, GAD can be very debilitating, making it difficult to carry out even the most ordinary daily activities.
GAD comes on gradually and most often hits people in childhood or adolescence, but can begin in adulthood, too. It’s more common in women than in men and often occurs in relatives of affected persons. It’s diagnosed when someone spends at least 6 months worried excessively about a number of everyday problems.
In general, the symptoms of GAD seem to diminish with age. Successful treatment may include a medication called buspirone. Research into the effectiveness of other medications, such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants, is ongoing. Also useful are cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and biofeedback to control muscle tension.
Generalized anxiety disorder is a relatively common anxiety problem, affecting 3-4% of the population, that turns daily life into a state of worry, anxiety, and fear. Excessive thinking and dwelling on the “what ifs” characterizes this anxiety disorder. As a result, the person feels there’s no way out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry, and then becomes depressed about life and the state of anxiety they find themselves in.
Generalized anxiety usually does not cause people to avoid situations, and there isn’t an element of a “panic attack” involved in the prognosis, either. It’s thethinking, thinking, thinking, dwelling, dwelling, ruminating, ruminating, and inability to shut the mind off that so incapacitates the person. At other times, thoughts seem almost non-existent because the anxious feelings are so dominant. Feelings of worry, dread, lack of energy, and a loss of interest in life are common. Many times there is no “trigger” or “cause” for these feelings and the person realizes these feelings are irrational. Nevertheless, the feelings are very real. At this point, there is no “energy” or “zest” in life and no desire to want to do much.
This emotional fear and worry can be quite strong. If a loved one is ten minutes late, the person with generalized anxiety fears the very worst — something’s dreadfully wrong (after all, they’re ten minutes late!), there’s been an accident, the paramedics are taking the person to the hospital and his injuries are just too critical to resuscitate him…..”Oh, my God!…..WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?” Feelings of fear and anxiety rush in from these thoughts, and the vicious cycle of anxiety and depression runs wild.
Some people with generalized anxiety have fluctuations in mood from hour to hour, whereas others have “good days” and “bad days”. Others do better in the morning, and others find it easier at the end of the day. These anxiety feelings and moods feed on themselves, leading the person to continue in the pattern of worry and anxiety — unless something powerful breaks it up.
Physical manifestations of generalized anxiety may include headaches, trembling, twitching, irritability, frustration, and inability to concentrate. Sleep disturbances may also occur. Elements of social phobia and/or panic may sometimes be present, such as high levels of self-consciousness in some situations, and fear of not being able to escape from enclosed spaces.
It is also common, but not universal, for people with generalized anxiety to experience other problems, such as a quickness to startle from it, a lack of ability to fully relax, and the propensity to be in a state of constant motion. It is difficult for some people with generalized anxiety to settle down enough to have a quiet, reflective time where they can calm down, relax, and feel some peace and tranquility. Strategies to peacefully calm down and relax are one part in overcoming this problem.
Normal life stresses aggravate generalized anxiety. The person who typically performs well at work and receives a sense of accomplishment from it, all of a sudden finds that work has become drudgery. If work is perceived as a negative environment, and the person no longer feels fulfilled, then considerable worry takes place over these situations. As a result, the anticipatory anxiety about going to work can become quite strong.
Generalized anxiety has been shown to respond best to cognitive-behavioral therapy, an active therapy that involves more than just talking to a therapist. In CBT, the person gradually learns to see situations and problems in a different perspective and learns the methods and techniques to use to alleviate and reduce anxiety. Sometimes medication is a helpful adjunct to therapy, but for many people it is not necessary. Research indicates that generalized anxiety is fully treatable and can be successfully overcome over the course of about three to four months if the person is motivated and works toward recovery.
Generalized anxiety must be chipped away from all sides and that is what CBT is designed to do. No one has to live with generalized anxiety disorder……treatment for GAD has been shown to be both effective and successful.
Please seek a therapist who understands anxiety and the anxiety disorders. Remember, that just because a person has a degree behind their name, does not mean they understand and can treat an anxiety disorder. Feel free to ask questions of any professional and make sure your therapist understands and knows how to treat generalized anxiety. It is usually a good idea to see a specialist in this area (they don’t charge more), but they do have a practice that is geared toward the anxiety disorders.