Anxiety often comes on slowly, but it can become a debilitating issue and a heavy burden to bear alone. One of the most common types of anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD.
Although people with the disorder may feel alone, Generalized Anxiety Disorder actually affects over 6 million people in the United States, or around 3% of the adult population.
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by six months or more of persistent worrying, along with other symptoms of GAD, which may include insomnia, fatigue, headaches and many others.
GAD is a chronic illness that requires no provocation, and those with GAD often feel a loss in control. They cannot stop worrying, even if they realize their fears are unrealistic. People with GAD constantly fret over pending disasters, health issues, money, family and work. Those with mild GAD are usually able to hold a job and fit in socially without problems, but some can find it difficult to complete even day-to-day tasks and cope with the uncertainty of everyday life.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
This type of anxiety is characterized by consistent worrying throughout the day. The focus of these fears can easily shift from one subject to another and do not necessary concentrate on only one topic alone. One sign of having GAD is frequently imagining the worst-case scenarios, leading to indecisiveness due to fear of making the wrong decision.
People diagnosed with GAD tend to be easily irritated, startle suddenly, have trouble focusing, are restless, and have difficulty sleeping.
In addition to these mental and emotional GAD symptoms, some common physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Muscle tension
- Hot flashes
- Loss of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Diarrhea/irritable bowel syndrome
This disorder is often seen with other mental health disorders and substance abuse. Co-occurring disorders may include:
- Panic disorder
- Suicidal thoughts
- Substance abuse
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Causes
Many factors are thought to play a part in causing GAD, including genetics, past experiences, brain chemistry, personality and development. Research suggests that it may be triggered by the amygdala, which initiates a fear response in the brain. While this has not yet been proven, we do know that genetics and experiences interact to cause anxiety and affect the way threats are perceived and processed in the brain.
Some people may be more likely than others to develop GAD, including those who:
- Have a family history of anxiety disorders
- Had past negative experiences, sudden life changes or recent traumatic events
- Have other medical or mental illnesses
Getting Treatment for GAD
There are a number of options available for GAD treatment. These include:
- Medication: Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are regularly used to treat GAD. The use of medication will depend on the needs of the individual along with any other co-occurring conditions such as depression or substance abuse.
- Therapy: Therapy is another common treatment for GAD, including psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Psychotherapy gives people with GAD a way to talk about the fears in a safe environment with a professional so that they can begin to work through them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has also shown to help change individual thinking patterns, the way people with GAD react to stressful situations and allows individuals to confront these fears in a safe environment. In some cases, group therapy is also helpful.
Contact Brookhaven Retreat for Help Today
If you or someone you know may be suffering from GAD, don’t be afraid to ask for help. At Brookhaven Retreat, we specialize in mental health treatment for women. We offer individualized treatment programs from caring professionals at our beautiful private treatment facility in Tennessee.
We understand that you may feel a loss of control, and we want to help put your life back in your hands. Contact us today!