What is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

  • Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent and exaggerated feelings of anxiousness about everyday events such as family, work, money, or other things.
  • The worry that people experience from this disorder is often unrealistic or out of proportion. Severe anxiety can impair a person’s ability in carrying out the simplest daily activities.
  • GAD can begin at any time during a person’s lifespan, however, it usually develops between childhood and middle age.

What causes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

The exact causes of generalized anxiety disorder are not known yet, but as with other mental health conditions a number of factors seem to contribute to the development of the disorder:
  • Some research suggests that genetics plays a role in the development of GAD. Having a relative who suffers from GAD, increases one’s chances of developing the disorder.
  • Environmental factors such as traumatic or stressful events may lead to generalized anxiety disorder. Also using certain substances such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine may also worsen the anxiety.

What are the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

  • Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder among adults include:
    • Persistent worrying that is usually out of proportions in relation to the event that triggered it
    • Inability to let go of the feelings of worry
    • Concentration difficulties
    • Feeling restless
    • Feeling distress when making decisions
    • Negative conclusions when considering certain situations
    • Worrying about being constantly worried
    • Difficulty handling indecisiveness
    • Being easily startled
  • The physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
    • Tiredness
    • Irritability
    • Muscle tension
    • Trembling
    • Sleeping troubles
    • Sweating
    • Nausea, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome
    • Headaches
  • In children, only one symptoms from the above is required for the diagnosis to be made. Children who have GAD may also have the following reservations:
    • Excessive worrying about performance at school and sport activities, punctuality, and catastrophic events
    • Feeling overly anxious about fitting in
    • Being a perfectionist
    • Spending a lot of time doing homework
    • Lacking confidence
    • Striving for approval
    • Require reassurance about performance

Are there treatments for generalized anxiety disorders?

There are several effective treatments for generalized anxiety disorder. They depend on the severity of the condition. These treatments might be used alone or in combination to achieve the best results.
  • Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to reduce anxiety by eliminating beliefs and behaviors that help uphold the disorder.
    • CBT teaches clients to recognize and change their pattern of thoughts and behaviors that usually lead to the feelings of anxiousness.
  • Medication
    • Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, sedatives such as benzodiazepines medications are used to treat generalized anxiety disorder.

Can generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) be prevented?

  • GAD cannot be prevented, however, certain measures can be taken to reduce the symptoms such as avoiding unhealthy substance abuse like alcohol, drugs and even caffeine or nicotine.
  • Seeking help, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and practicing stress management such as yoga or meditation can also reduce symptoms.