Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD totally affects the way a person thinks because of anxiety.
This anxiety can lead to different types of physical symptoms a few of which are given below:
• Tension that is ongoing and excessive.
• Looking at problems in an unrealistic manner
• Being always restless
• Muscle tension and irritability
• Headaches, sweating and difficulty in concentrating and nausea
• An urge to go to bathroom regularly
• Tiredness and trouble staying asleep or even falling asleep
• Trembling and getting startled easily
• There could other symptoms too such as panic disorder, OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder and phobias. They also try self medication because of acute depression.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Causes
See also: Top Causes of Anxiety Disorder
Though the exact cause of GAD is not known there could various factors contributing to it. These include genetics, environmental stresses and brain chemistry. Let us have a look at each one of them in some detail.
- Family history plays a big role in deciding whether a person is at a higher risk of GAD or not. If anyone in the family has GAD there are chances that it may get passed down to others in the family.
- Brain chemistry also has a role to play in GAD. People with abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain are at a higher risk of contacting GAD. Neurotransmitters are messengers that help in movement of information from one nerve cell to another. if these neurotransmitters are not in balance message may not go through properly which can cause problems and symptoms associated with GAD.
- Talking about environmental factors certain stressful and traumatic events, such as death of a close person, abuse during childhood, job changes, and school changes could all cause GAD. It could become worse during periods of stress. People who overuse substances like alcohol, caffeine or nicotine or even withdraw them suddenly could suffer from GAD.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Diagnosis
It would be pertinent to point out here that more than 4 million American adults suffer from GAD every year. Though it usually begins in childhood and adolescence, it can also begin during adulthood. It is found more in women than in men.
Diagnosis is very important for treatment of GAD and the doctor is the best person who will be able to do it. The doctor usually will start the evaluation process by putting some questions about the patient’s medical history. He or she may also perform a few physical exams. Though there are no specific laboratory tests to check the existence of GAD, doctors quite often make use of various tests to have a closer look at the physical illnesses which could be the symptoms associated with GAD.
Diagnosis is usually done on the basis of the intensity and duration of the various symptoms. He then tries to establish the relationship of the symptoms with the degree of malfunction and finds out whether the patient suffers from any anxiety disorder including GAD. If a patient suffers from these symptoms for a majority of days in the last six months then he or she could be suffering from GAD. The symptoms must most certainly be affecting the patients’ day to day living.
GAD – Treatment & Side Effects
The next thing that we will be looking at is the ways and means by which GAD is treated. If the patient does not show any physical illness, he or she could be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrists who are specially trained to diagnose and treat GAD and other such mental illnesses. There are a number of medicines and cognitive behavioral therapy that are used for treating GAD patients.
Coming to medications, many of these drugs are for those people who suffer from inability to carry out their daily activities. The most common group of drugs that are used belongs to the benzodiazepines category. These are also called as tranquilizers because they help in calming and relaxing the patients. These drugs help treat GAD patients by reducing the physical symptoms associated with this mental illness such as restlessness and muscle tension. A few brand names of drugs in this category are Xanax, Valium, and Ativan.
There are also some antidepressants like Effexor, Prozac and Lexapro which are also prescribed for treating GAD. However, many of these anti-depressants take some days to start working but they are useful for long term treatment of GAD.
Let us now have a closer look at cognitive-behavior therapy for treating GAD. These therapies usually are about making patients to learn, recognize and change thought patterns which lead to such feeling of anxiety. This treatment helps patient to get away from distorted thinking by learning to look at worries realistically. Relaxation exercises such as deep breathing and biofeedback also could be helpful.
Side effects with GAD Treatment: While there may not be any way out but to go in for the various anti-anxiety medicines, you cannot rule out that such drugs will be totally free of side effects. Antidepressant drugs have their own side effects which would depend on the type of drug and the person who is taking them. Some common side effects are weight gain, sleepiness, and problems related to sexual activities.
Conclusion (Outlook and prevention):
Though it may not be possible to cure GAD totally, it can be managed and controlled effectively by drugs and behavioral therapies. It may not also be possible to prevent GAD totally.
However, certain things could help in lessening symptoms such as reducing or doing away with products like coffee, tea, chocolate and cola. Taking of OTC drugs should be regulated and should be consumed only after your doctor okays it. A good and health diet and exercise can also help prevent sudden outbreaks of symptoms associated with GAD.