It is normal for a human being to feel anxious often especially if your life is stressful at that moment. There are instances where you find yourself worrying excessively about things that are highly unlikely to happen or feel anxious and tense for a whole day.
This is not normal at all.
Excessive, ongoing worry and anxiety that is capable of interfering with your day-to-day activities could be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder. It is possible to develop GAD when you are a child or an adult.
People exhibiting symptoms of GAD tend to expect disaster always, and they cannot stop from worrying about money, health, work, family or even school.
This worry is unrealistic and way out of proportion for a certain situation. Their daily life goes through a constant state of fear, anxiety, and dread.
With time, the anxiety dominates a person’s thinking to the point that it interferes with their daily functioning in their work, social activities, relationships and school.
What Causes GAD?
Up until now, the exact cause of this condition is yet unknown, but there some factors that appear to play a part in its development. These include brain chemistry, genetics as well as environmental stresses.
There is some research that proves that family history can increase the likelihood of a person developing GAD. Some environmental factors like stressful and trauma events like abuse, divorce, death, changing schools or jobs, etc. may increase the chances of GAD. This condition worsens during stressful periods.
Generalized anxiety disorder usually affects the way an individual thinks, but the anxiety it brings about leads to the development of physical symptoms.
The common symptoms of GAD include an unrealistic way of looking at problems, restlessness or feeling “edgy,” ongoing and excessive tension and worry, muscle tension, irritability, sweating, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.
Others include nausea, tiredness, trembling, need to visit the bathroom frequently, being easily startled and trouble to stay or falling asleep.
Also, individuals suffering from GAD have some other anxiety disorders like phobias or panic disorder, clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or other problems with alcohol or drug abuse.
GAD Treatment Tips
Before any form of treatment on an individual suffering from GAD, it is important to diagnose the condition properly. A doctor will begin their evaluation by way of questions on your psychiatric and medical history as well as perform a physical exam.
There are no defined lab tests that are used to precisely diagnose these anxiety disorders, and the doctors usually rely on some tests to check for physical illnesses that could be causing these symptoms.
The health practitioner will then base their GAD diagnosis on the reports of the duration and intensity of the symptoms. The diagnosis of GAD is necessary if the symptoms remain present for long within a period of six months.
It is also important for the symptoms to have also interfered with the daily activities like missing school or work.
When there is no other type of medical condition diagnosed, you will be advised to see a psychologist or psychiatrist and other mental health professionals. These are medical professionals who have undergone special training to diagnose as well as treat mental illnesses such as GAD.
The treatment for general anxiety disorder involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication.
Some drugs that can be used for treating GAD are available and are useful for individuals whose anxiety level is getting in the way of their daily functioning. These drugs help in treating GAD on a short-term basis as they can be sedating, addictive and interfere with attention and memory (benzodiazepines).
These drugs are often referred to as “minor tranquilizers” as they are capable of removing the intense feelings brought about by acute anxiety. They function by decreasing physical symptoms like restlessness, anxiety and muscle tension.
The common benzodiazepines include Valium, Ativan, Librium, and Xanax. They over-stress the sedation special effects especially when combined with other medicines, but they are dangerous when mixed with alcohol.
Some antidepressants like Paxil, Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft, Cymbalta, and Lexapro can also help in treating GAD for long. They may take some weeks before taking effect, but they are more appropriate and safer for long term treatment.
Under the cognitive-behavioral type of therapy, individuals suffering from GAD can recognize and change their behaviors and thought patterns that fuel anxious feelings. This therapy is important as it helps in limiting distorted thinking by changing the way they look at worries in a more realistic way.
Some relaxation techniques like biofeedback and deep breathing help in controlling muscle tension brought about by GAD.
GAD Prevention Tips
Just like the adage states “prevention is better than cure,” it is crucial to prevent generalized anxiety disorder. There are some prevention tips that you could find useful in overcoming GAD. These include connecting with other people regularly.
Interacting socially with other people is one of the most effective ways of calming your nervous system as well as diffusing anxiety.
It is, therefore, important to find a person to connect with regularly on a face-to-face basis. This should be a person who can talk for an uninterrupted time, offer a listening ear or get easily distracted by their phone or people.
However, you should avoid persons who are chronic worriers as they will make the situation worse – no matter how close to you they could be.
It is also important to learn how to calm down on your own quickly. It is easier to calm yourself down when you have another person interacting with you, but it is not possible to have such a friend or person by your side all the time.
You should learn how to self-soothe to relieve your anxiety symptoms by using your physical senses. You can look at things that relax you, listen to some soothing music, smell some flowers or scented candles, eating a favorite meal or treat and going for a walk or gently stretching.
Exercising is an effective and natural anti-anxiety treatment as it helps in relieving tension, reducing stress hormones, boosting feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin, and changing your brain in a way that makes it less prone to anxiety and more resilient.
All the above are some of the great treatment and prevention tips of generalized anxiety disorder.