All of us experience anxiety at one time or another. Whether it’s sleeping through the alarm or the car breaking down, anxiety is a normal part of life. When anxiety becomes excessive and worry continues day after day, it can be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD.) GAD can begin in childhood or adulthood, typically manifesting in crippling stress that interferes with completion of everyday activities. Generalized anxiety disorder treatment can be a challenge. Medication and therapy can help those with GAD learn new coping skills and relaxation techniques. The cause of the disorder is not fully understood but may be due to genetics and other risk factors such as…and citation potentially needed for that information.

Symptoms vary from person to person and may include:

  • Continual worrying about even the smallest things when the worry is unnecessary
  • Failure to relax and stop worrying
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Worrying about worrying
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Consistently negative thoughts

Physical symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Irritability
  • Easily startled
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Headaches

Risk factors

  • Personality: a timid or negative person who avoids danger at all costs may be more prone to generalized anxiety than others
  • Genetics: the disorder can run in families
  • Gender: women are diagnosed with the condition more frequently than men


In addition to causing persistent worry, GAD can:

  • Cause lack of focus due to poor concentration
  • Prevent participation in fun activities
  • Wear a person down
  • Interfere with sleep

GAD can lead to other disorders both mental and physical such as:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Headaches
  • Cardiac disease

Coping with a family member suffering from GAD can take a toll on familial relationships. Family members often take on the burden of dealing with the patient’s antisocial behavior, sometimes leading to strained relationships between the patient and his or her loved ones. People may assume the absence is due to poor manners or lack of interest. Misinterpretations and false perceptions can compound the problem.

While some anxiety is normal, see a doctor for the following symptoms:

  • Worrying is affecting daily life and relationships
  • Depression and/or substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

The worries and anxiety will not disappear without help. The first step is to tell a doctor each symptom and behavior. The doctor will conduct a physical examination to rule out physical causes and a referral is then generally given to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other qualified clinician. That person may recommend inpatient anxiety treatment, outpatient treatment, medication and therapy. Look for treatment centers offering the following programs:

  • Thorough patient assessment including dual diagnosis, when a person with GAD is admitted they should be thoroughly assessed by qualified clinicians. A physical exam should be carried out and a complete case history taken. Notes should be made of any underlying condition accompanying the primary diagnosis of GAD.  Possible underlying conditions include: depression, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse or obsessive compulsive disorder.  In order to achieve optimum recovery, all conditions must be treated concurrently to reduce the chance of relapse
  • A specially designed treatment plan. This should include individual and group therapy, medication if deemed necessary by the clinician, therapeutic activities, continuing care following treatment and comfortable living accommodations. There should be involvement and inclusion of family members including updates on patient progress and, in some cases, family participation in therapy
  • Cognitive testing to assess brain wellness. Brain wellness is essential to achieve a successful treatment outcome and a healthy brain is at the source of any recovery
  • Anxiety treatment centers should be willing to discuss health insurance and payment plans. Most centers accept health care insurance which makes treatment more affordable
  • Treatment centers offering post-treatment support should have staff whom the patient may contact at any time and programs and events the patient can attend

For further information, please call Anxiety Treatment Centers of California at 855-972-9459.