Generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a pattern of constant worry and anxiety over many different activities and events.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common condition. Genes may play a role. Stress may also contribute to the development of GAD.
Anyone can develop this disorder, even kids. Most people with the disorder report that they have been anxious for as long as they can remember. GAD occurs somewhat more often in women than in men.
The main symptom is the almost constant presence of worry or tension, even when there is little or no cause. Worries seem to float from one problem to another, such as family or relationship problems, work issues, money, health, and other problems.
Even when aware that their worries or fears are stronger than needed, a person with GAD still has difficulty controlling them.
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Problems falling or staying asleep, and sleep that is often restless and unsatisfying
- Restlessness, and often becoming startled very easily
Exams and tests
Doctor will perform a physical and mental health exam. Tests will be done to rule out other conditions and behaviors that cause similar symptoms
The goal of treatment is to help you function well during day-to-day life. A combination of medicine and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) works best.
Medications are an important part of treatment. Once you start them, do not suddenly stop taking them without talking with your health care provider. Medications that may be used include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are usually the first choice in medications. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are another choice.
- Other antidepressants and some antiseizure drugs may be used for severe cases.
- Benzodiazepines may be used short-term if antidepressants don't help enough with symptoms. Long-term use can lead to dependence on these drugs.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you understand your behaviors and how to gain control of them. You will have 10 to 20 visits over a number of weeks. During therapy you will learn how to:
- Understand and gain control of your distorted views of life stressors, such as other people's behavior or life events.
- Recognize and replace panic-causing thoughts, decreasing the sense of helplessness.
- Manage stress and relax when symptoms occur.
- Avoid thinking that minor worries will develop into very bad problems.
Avoiding caffeine, illicit drugs, and even some cold medicines may also help reduce symptoms.
A healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, enough rest, and good nutrition can help reduce the impact of anxiety.
How well a person does depends on the severity of the condition. GAD may continue and be difficult to treat. However, most patients get better with a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.
Depression and substance abuse may occur with an anxiety disorder.
When to contact a medical professional
Call your doctor if you constantly worry and feel anxious and it interferes with your daily activities.