Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder
When the Worry Becomes Obsessive
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Everybody worries sometimes, it’s part of normal life. Rent is due, kids are home alone, or wondering if they will have layoffs at work. This is normal, healthy behavior and is not Anxiety Disorder.
Anxiety Disorders are separated into five different disorders, GAD, Panic, Phobia, OCD, and PTSD. Let’s take a moment to look at these five disorders as listed by David G. Myers in Psychology in Everyday Life (Myers, 2009).
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is when a person is constantly tense or uneasy without an acceptable reason.
Panic Disorder is when a person experiences sudden feelings or episodes of intense dread.
Phobias are fears that lead to irrational or intense feelings of fear and are usually targeted at a specific thing or situation. i.e. snakes or darkness
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which a person is subjected to repetitive thoughts or actions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder caused by trauma and memories, nightmares, and / or symptoms occur weeks or longer after the event.
Today we will be looking at the first one: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The symptoms of GAD are common, but the persistence of them can be the indicator of suffering from this condition. 2/3’s of GAD patients are women, and people with this condition worry continually, are often jittery, on edge and sleep deprived. Concentration is very difficult and they may worry about many problems at one time. (Myers, 2009).
Physical signs of GAD included but are not limited too; furrowed brows, twitching eyelids, trembling, sweating and/or fidgeting. GAD develops slowly usually during the teenage years or in early adulthood. Severity usually fluctuates but often becomes severe in times of great stress (NIMH, 2010).
What signs should you look for if you think someone you know has GAD?
· Extreme worrying over everyday topics
· Have problems controlling constant fear
· Admitting they worry too much
· Inability to relax
· Inability to concentrate
· Easily Startled
· Problems sleeping, either falling asleep or staying asleep
· Extreme Fatigue
· Headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or other unexplained pains
· Difficulty Swallowing
· Constant Twitch or Tremble
· Irritable, excessive sweating, light headedness
· Excessive Bathroom usage
Treatment for GAD
Usually the first step is to visit a physician and rule out other physical problems for the GAD or symptoms.
Next the Doctor will direct the patient to a mental health specialist who will then determine if psychotherapy and / or medication are best to treat the symptoms. Medicines usually include anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicines. If you or someone you know is suspected of suffering from GAD please schedule a visit with a physician for tests and further treatment.
Myers, D. G. (2009). Psychology in Everyday Life. New York: Worth.
NIMH. (2010). Generalized Anxiety Disorder. TR 10-4677. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.