When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.  – Wayne Dyer

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. But people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) feel excessive, ongoing anxiety — even when there is little or no reason to worry. People with GAD find it difficult to control their anxiety, and it interferes with day-to-day activities.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, develops slowly. It often starts during the teen years or young adulthood. People with GAD may:

  • Persistent and excessive anxiety about everyday things
  • Have trouble controlling their worries or feelings of nervousness
  • Perceive situations as threatening, even when they aren’t
  • Feel restless and have trouble relaxing
  • Have difficulty handling uncertainty
  • Have a hard time concentrating
  • Are indecisive and fear making the wrong decision
  • Feel easily tired or tired all the time
  • Have headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or unexplained pains

Adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder are often highly nervous about everyday circumstances, such as:

  • Job
  • Health
  • Finances
  • Health of their children
  • Household chores and responsibilities

Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects the way a person thinks, but the anxiety can lead to physical symptoms, as well. Physical symptoms of GAD can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Trembling or twitching
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel
  • The need to go to the bathroom frequently
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep

Risk Factors for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The exact cause of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is not fully known, but several factors — including personality, genetics, and environment or experiences — appear to contribute to its development.

  • Personality. A person with a timid or negative temperament, or one that avoids anything dangerous, may be more prone to generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Genetics: Some research suggests that family history plays a part in increasing the likelihood that a person will develop GAD.
  • Environment / Experiences: Trauma and stressful events, such as abuse, the death of a loved one, divorce, changing jobs or schools, may contribute to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. GAD also may become worse during periods of stress.

Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as “talk therapy” or counseling, is a vital component of treating anxiety disorders. There are a variety of specific psychotherapeutic approaches that can be explored in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy
  • Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
  • Virtual Reality Therapy
  • Integrative Psychotherapy

Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but can help relieve their symptoms. The types of medications used to treat the symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Anti-Anxiety Medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Beta-Blockers

Every individual will react to various medications in their own way, and several different medications, or combinations of medications, may be tried before finding one that improves symptoms with manageable side effects.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms and wish to seek treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, please contact me for an evaluation.

Also see Anxiety Disorders & Therapy »