Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a mental health problem characterized by exaggerated fear and worry around diverse situations in a person’s everyday life. Different from regular stress, this excessive, ongoing anxiety is difficult to control and interferes with day-to-day functioning. Generalized anxiety disorder has symptoms that are similar to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other types of anxiety, but these are all different conditions. It can be a long term challenge to manage, requiring coping skills, lifestyle changes, psychotherapy and sometimes medication.
APPOTEK can help with generalized anxiety disorder.
The exact causes of generalized anxiety disorder are not fully established, but are rooted in both biological and environmental factors. Prolonged stress or psychologically stressful life events can increase the risk of developing GAD. Extreme anxiety can occasionally be triggered by physical illness or a specific medication.
Generalized anxiety disorder can begin at any age, affecting both children and adults. Women are affected more often than men.
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by a perpetual state of worry and apprehension and an inability to relax or manage everyday situations – such as work and school. GAD often also causes physical symptoms such as tension, insomnia and concentration difficulties. A typical symptom of generalized anxiety disorder is the fear that future disasters are imminent.
Symptoms of GAD include:
- constant, excessive worry and anxiety about everyday things
- great difficulty controlling anxiety
- muscle spasms
- concentration difficulties
GAD in children
Generalized anxiety disorder in children can start early, before puberty. Sometimes parents who themselves suffer from severe anxiety can unwittingly affect their child. For example, a child with a parent who is afraid of thunderstorms may learn to fear thunderstorms. A traumatic event may also cause GAD. This can include things such as the death of a parent, a divorce, a serious family accident or illness, or even bullying.
Children who have generalized anxiety disorder have similar symptoms to adults, but tend to display shyness and have more concern than curiosity when facing new situations. Their anxiety often causes them to have frequent stomach aches, headaches or other physical complaints, without underlying physical causes.
Prevention and protection
There are many ways to help manage anxiety and keep it from dominating your life. For example, you can schedule fixed times during the day when you are allowed to think about what is worrying you – but if worries surface outside these allotted times, you must postpone fearful thoughts until the scheduled time. Many people find it easier to control their anxiety by deciding in advance when they can focus on their worries.
Physical activities can also help, because they increase endorphin levels – and endorphin is a hormone that makes us feel good.
Generalized anxiety disorder can be treated with the help of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave – and in some cases with antidepressant drugs.
When to consult a doctor
You should seek care if you suspect you or your child is suffering from generalized anxiety disorder and are experiencing one or more of the symptoms above.
How APPOTEK can help
APPOTEK can help you in the following ways:
- psychologist contact
- CBT treatment
- individual assessment and prescription medicines, if needed