What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorderGeneralized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition that is characterized by unusual high levels of worrying in an individual. Sometimes the level of worrying may be too much to an extent that it interferes with day to day activities. A person suffering GAD normally finds themselves in an emotional situation whereby they are overly concerned about common issues such as family problems, financial downturns, relationship issues or health issues for example.  Since anxiety and depression are often co-existing conditions in a number of patients, treatment for anxiety symptoms may be similar to that used to treat the symptoms and signs of depression.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It is sometimes quite tricky to detect the symptoms of this disorder, in fact in some cases it might even take up to six months of careful examination in order to verify that a person is suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the most popular GAD symptoms include; fidgeting, fatigue, nausea, headaches, muscle aches, trembling, irritability, excessive sweating, hot flashes, migraines and insomnia. Among young kids, the symptoms may include persistent self criticism, uncontrollable thinking and unnecessary worries about the future.  The level of anxiety and feelings of nervousness and excessive worry may be more steady and less acute and sudden than those who suffer from panic attacks or panic disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Causes

The exact cause of GAD is yet to be specifically identified. Recent research show that several factors ranging from hereditary factors, physical factors, biological factors and social factors may lead to this disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder may be hereditary and passed from one generation to another through genetic coding. This condition can also be attributed to the imbalance in the brain chemistry more so affecting the brain chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters.

Some of the physical factors that may trigger GAD include social stresses like divorce, death of loved ones and environmental associated stresses like a sudden change in living conditions or a sudden move to another town. Some of the lifestyle factors that may trigger GAD include: excessive alcohol consumption, excessive cigarette smoking, hard drugs and excessive consumption of caffeine.

Treating GAD

Generalized anxiety disorder can be treated through various methods, the most commonly applied forms of treatment are medications and psychotherapy. Before prescribing any medication to a patient suffering from this condition, a psychiatrist needs to carry out a thorough examination of the nature of the patient’s symptoms and the medical history of the patient. After the psychiatrist diagnoses the patient, he prescribes the suitable treatment plan. The following are possible treatment plans:


A psychiatrist can recommend various antidepressant drugs, mild tranquilizers and anti-anxiety drugs to counter this disorder. The most commonly prescribed drugs include:

Anti-anxiety drugs: clonazepam, diazepam and alprazolam.

Anti-depressants: imipramine, escitalopram, fluoxetine and paroxetine.

Mild tranquilizers are also use to mitigate the effects of GAD as they help keep the patient calm and relaxed.

It is important that if you are under medical treatment that you adhere to your doctor’s prescription and advice in order to triumph.


This type of therapy places more focus on controlling one’s unwanted behavior. Patients are exposed to unexpected and difficult life situations. Thereafter the patient is taught on how to deal with similar life situations. Some of the most common techniques used under this form of treatment include:

Cognitive Therapy: This mainly lays its focus on eliminating unproductive thoughts from a patient’s mindset. A patient undergoing cognitive therapy is usually exposed to changes in the usual thought pattern hence challenging them to control his response towards them.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy is commonly prescribed as a complement to cognitive therapy. A patient undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy is taught some useful life recovery skills and how to cope with and work through situations that usually trigger their anxiety.

Relaxation Therapy: This is mainly recommended in order to effectively cope with the symptoms of stress that mainly lead to GAD. A patient undergoing this kind of therapy is taken through various physical activities such as breath retraining and body exercises. Under relaxation therapy some medication can be recommended as well in order to enhance its effectiveness.

Generalized anxiety disorder can affect everyone at any stage of their lives. Statistics show that the median age of prevalence is approximately 31 years old. Further research studies show that the occurrence of GAD is a slow and gradual process and its symptoms normally manifest themselves at a much slower pace as compared to other forms of anxiety disorders. Women are also at a very high likelihood of suffering from GAD as compared to their male counterparts. Generally the disorder has been found to be more prevalent in elderly people than it is to the younger generation.

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