Feeling sad and depressed over a loss or mishap is natural. Worrying under pressure, or switching on the alert mode sensing some danger, or feeling anxious when faced with stressful situations, generally come under a natural reflex. However, for some people, things are not as easy as they seem and those who feel anxious or stressed most of the time may suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). For a person with GAD, the state of anxiety remains constant.
GAD can be defined as the state of being anxious due to unrealistic and irrelevant reasons. The disorder, if left untreated, can extend to hinder day-to-day functioning and the ability to perform tasks such as going out in open spaces or interacting with people. GAD is characterized by the chronic anxiety that prevails for six months or more.
GAD can occur to anyone at any point of life. However, in most of the cases, it begins during childhood or teenage years and develops to stay until adulthood, if not treated on time. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) highlights that nearly 6.8 percent people in the United States suffer from GAD. Additionally, women are twice likely to suffer from GAD than men.
Risk factors of GAD
While there are no particular risk factors of GAD, several studies have reported multiple factors that could together or in isolation cause the disorder. The factors researched to be responsible for GAD are:
- Biological factors: In many cases, GAD is caused by changes in the brain functioning. These changes primarily occur in the regions involved in thinking and emotion.
- Environmental factors: Often these are external factors such as a traumatic life event, stress, abuse, death or loss of loved ones. Additionally, use or withdrawal from addictive substances such alcohol or drugs can also lead to GAD.
- Genetic factors: Many studies also associate GAD with family history. A person who has a family history of mental illness or disorder tends to develop GAD at some point in life.
Symptoms of GAD
General symptoms of GAD include intense pessimism, excessive worrying about health, family, money and world, fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headaches, irritability or hot flashes. People with the disorder also tend to suffer from insomnia.
Other symptoms may include constant feeling of restlessness, difficulty in concentrating, repeated stomach aches or diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, sweating palms, and neurological symptoms such as complaints of numbness and tingling of different parts of the body.
Diagnosis of GAD
For diagnosis of GAD, it is important to recognize the symptoms at the earliest. Once recognized, the person should be taken for a mental health screening at a GAD treatment center. There, the person has to answer a set of questions asked by the medical professional about the symptoms and experience.
The questionnaire session helps in identifying the underlying cause of GAD. Further, medical tests are conducted to determine if anxiety symptoms are causing by an underlying condition or by substance abuse. In many cases, the disorder also occurs due to conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), thyroid disorders, heart disease, and menopause. If it is found that substance abuse is the cause of GAD, tests such as blood tests, urine tests, gastric reflux tests such as X-ray of your digestive system, endoscopy procedure and stress tests may also be required.
Treatment for GAD
It is important to treat GAD. The patient should be taken to a psychiatrist/psychologist or mental health professionals to treat the disorder. There are several methods by which GAD can be treated. Often, the treatment includes a combination of medications and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy particularly deals with recognizing and altering the behavioral patterns that lead to anxiety. CBT helps people to restrict their thoughts and channelize their thinking towards the right direction.
- Medication: Primarily, benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Librium, Valium, and Ativan are used to treat GAD in patients. This class of drugs are sedative-hypnotics or minor tranquilizers in nature as they tend to reduce the feeling of anxiety. Besides, antidepressants such as Paxil, Effexor, Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft, and Cymbalta are also used to treat GAD in some patients.
If you or your loved one is grappling with GAD, you can connect with the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California to know about various treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459 or chat online to seek the best generalized anxiety disorders treatment centers in California.