Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Symptoms and Causes

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday things. This worry goes on every day, possibly all day. People with GAD feel their worrying is beyond their control and can’t be turned “off.” People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to provoke it. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety.

People with generalized anxiety disorder can’t seem to shake their concerns. Their worries are accompanied by physical symptoms, especially fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, and hot flashes. Common symptoms includes:

Restlessness

Feeling of being keyed up or on edge

Feeling a lump in your throat

Difficulty concentrating

Fatigue

trouble concentrating

irritability

easy to startle

procrastination

Impatience

Being easily distracted

Muscle tension

Trouble falling or staying asleep (insomnia)

Excessive sweating

Shortness of breath

Stomachache

Diarrhea

Headache

In general, anxiety disorders are treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy, or both. Treatment choices depend on the problem and the person’s preference. Before treatment begins, a doctor must conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine whether a person’s symptoms are caused by an anxiety disorder or a physical problem. Treatment options includes:

Medications – Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can keep them under control while the person receives psychotherapy.

Antidepressants – Antidepressants were developed to treat depression but are also effective for anxiety disorders. Although these medications begin to alter brain chemistry after the very first dose, their full effect requires a series of changes to occur; it is usually about 4 to 6 weeks before symptoms start to fade.

SSRIs – Some of the newest antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. SSRIs alter the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which, like other neurotransmitters, helps brain cells communicate with one another.

Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor, to discover what caused an anxiety disorder and how to deal with its symptoms.

If you think you have an anxiety disorder, the first person you should see is your family doctor. A physician can determine whether the symptoms that alarm you are due to an anxiety disorder, another medical condition, or both.

People with generalized anxiety disorder can adopt a number of effective self-help techniques. Using “self-talk” to intervene in your own anxious thoughts forcing yourself to stop the cycle of anxiety and replace worried self-dialogue with practical dialogue can help you learn how not to worry.