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Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety is a typical response to stressors, and everyone experiences stress in one way or another in their normal lives. However, many people struggle with anxiety disorders every single day and find it difficult to function in their lives. Generalized anxiety disorder is a mental health condition in which a person may feel overly concerned and worried about things for no apparent reasons. Persons with generalized anxiety disorder struggle to function in many areas of their lives because of their anxiety. The anxiety becomes so intense that it takes over their everyday life, causing them to have trouble at school, work, home, and even personal relationships.
Stress vs. GAD
Everyone experiences stress in their day-to-day life. We may get anxious about giving a presentation, handling finances, or going to a family get-together. However, persons with generalized anxiety disorder tend to have an overestimated anxiety, fear, or worry about normal life situations. For example, a person with GAD may believe that if they do not complete their presentation for a class, they will fail at school and never get a job. They may also carry a lot of negative self-esteem and negative self-talk that adds to the overestimation of the anxiety. In other situations, anxiety can crop up without any reason specifically, which can make having the disorder even more difficult.
Common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include excessive worrying, nervousness, inability to focus, restlessness, insomnia, and having a hard time relaxing. In addition to these symptoms, generalized anxiety disorder can also cause common panic symptoms such as tremors, racing heart, sweating, and nausea. Persons with generalized anxiety disorder feel more fatigued in their everyday lives. This low level of energy and performance can impact school and work life in a large way. Because of this, persons with the disorder often need help controlling these anxious thoughts and feelings so that they can relax and focus better.
Many Different Symptoms
Some research suggests that generalized anxiety disorder can run in families, but environmental issues such as trauma or other stressful events can also induce generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder typically causes an increase in the production of adrenaline in the body, making people feel more “on the edge” or in “survival mode”. Because of this, there tends to be an imbalance in the GABA receptors in the brain as well, which regulates our calm and relaxation.
Treatments for generalized anxiety disorder consist of a combination of medication and therapy. The most common medications used for GAD include antidepressants and benzodiazepines. Antidepressants work by regulating the serotonin and/or norepinephrine chemicals in the brain, helping to prevent anxiety from day to day. Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for short term relief from anxiety and panic attacks, as these medicines can impact a person’s ability to function and are abusable drugs. There are two types of therapy that work well for people with generalized anxiety disorder: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). CBT involves helping a person to think in different ways by looking at their negative and anxious thought patterns and analyzing them. Reframing these thoughts in a more positive way can help them prevent anxiety from taking control of their lives. ACT works in a different way, utilizing strategies such as mindfulness, meditation, and goal setting to help a person work through the anxiety, rather than confronting the negative patterns of thought that they may have. In the long term, antidepressants and therapy are the best treatments for generalized anxiety disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder can be a difficult mental health condition for a person to deal with, especially if they have very stressful and intense work and personal environments. Those that have generalized anxiety disorder tend to worry and be anxious more excessively than others due to genetic factors as well as dysregulated function of chemicals such as adrenaline and GABA in the brain. Treatments for generalized anxiety disorder emphasize the importance of medication and therapy working together in order to help treat GAD and give the person the tools to successfully prevent future anxieties from taking control of their lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with generalized anxiety disorder, don’t wait to get treatment. Reach out to a trusted healthcare professional and start your journey into a more anxiety-free life now. The positive step you take forward today can help you prepare for the future ahead. For more information about generalized anxiety disorder, look at the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) websites for more information.
“Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Gets out of Control.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2022, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad.
“Anxiety Disorders.” NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2022, https://nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders?gclid=Cj0KCQjwl92XBhC7ARIsAHLl9anRyXXUtg72bK7eULjK9oVEkppU6lzQNmBDbmain0_Qk6Tn4YfYkyIaAqppEALw_wcB.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Anne Marie Carr