An Anxiety Disorder is characterized by having a constant feeling of anxiety or dread, not the usual occasional worry. Anxiety is a normal human emotion. Many people experience occasional anxiety from work, school, finances, and family problems. However, having an anxiety disorder is more than occasional fear or worry. Symptoms of an anxiety disorder do not go away and may get worse over time. This can lead to impairment in work and school performance, and in one’s personal life.
The symptoms of GAD are highly variable. Some may display some or most of the potential symptoms. Individuals may have excessive worry and frequent catastrophic thoughts while others may have predominantly physical symptoms (i.e., nausea, tension, stomach ache, fast heart rate). The symptoms usually occur on most days for at least 6 months.
GAD symptoms may include:
The risk of GAD is higher if multiple family members are diagnosed with the disorder. Researchers have identified several areas in the brain that play a pivotal role in fear and anxiety. Some types of anxiety are very responsive to either medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, or a combination of both treatments. There is no single cause of anxiety. There may be multiple stressors or factors that may cause a person to develop symptoms. It is also important to know that anxiety can arise even when there is no apparent external cause.
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is an extremely effective type of psychotherapy for anxiety. CBT allows the patient to discover different ways of thinking, behaving, and responding to situations that decrease anxiety symptoms.
Utilizing healthy lifestyle changes can work wonders with anxiety. Getting enough sleep, reducing caffeine intake, deep breathing, and meditations are some of the few ways one can ease day-to-day stress and tension.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 31% of U.S adults experience any type of anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. A majority of those with anxiety experience some form of impairment in their day-to-day lives.