What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD, generalized anxiety disorder, is characterized by uncontrollable and excessive worry about everyday events. The worry is often irrational and at a higher level than is necessary. The excessive worry often disrupts daily life, as those who suffer generalized anxiety disorder always anticipate disaster. Sufferers are always concerned about everyday and daily living matters such as death, money, health, family problems, relationship problems or work difficulties.

GAD sufferers often display a variety of physical symptoms including nausea, headaches, fatigue and fidgeting. Other symptoms include muscles aches and tension, hand and feet numbness, difficulty swallowing and bouts of breathing difficulty. If that isn’t enough, sufferers may also have difficulty concentrating, experience trembling and twitching, irritability and agitation, restlessness and sweating, rashes, hot flashes and insomnia.
For a formal diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorders diagnosis, symptoms must be on going and consistent for at least six months. Worldwide GAD sufferers include approximately 3.2% of people age 18 and above in the United States, 3% of the adults in Australia, 3% in Italy, between 3% and 5% of adults in Canada and less than half a percent in Taiwan.

Generalized anxiety disorder can begin anywhere from childhood to late adulthood. The median age of affliction is about 31 years of age. Most studies suggest GAD is more likely to manifest itself at an earlier age and gradually develop over time than other anxiety disorders. Women are more likely to suffer from GAD at a rate of two to three times than men. GAD is also common among the elderly population.

Some research on the subject suggests GAD may run in families. It most likely grows worse with stress. When GAD takes hold of a sufferer it is usually a response to stress in life. It may be everyday stress or stress due to a certain, unexpected event. Treatment is available to help sufferers manage and minimize as much as possible symptoms.

Generalized anxiety disorder has a neurological basis. GAD has been linked to a disrupt in the functional connecting of the amygdala and how it process fear and anxiety. Sensory information, such as sight and sound, enters the amygdala through the center of the basolateral complex, which, in turn, communicates threats and their importance to sensory and memory elsewhere in the brain.

When diagnosing GAD, the health care provider will perform tests to rule out other physical or mental conditions and behaviors that are similar to GAD symptoms. Once the diagnosis has been made, there is treatment available. The goal of the treatment is to allow the sufferer to function normally on a daily basis by learning to manage, and even minimize, symptoms.

Medication and cognitive behavioral therapy is found to be effective in most cases. Therapy will help the sufferer understand generalized anxiety disorder, recognize panic triggering thoughts and how to replace them with something positive and manage stress and relax when symptoms occur.
Support groups are helpful and allow the sufferer to share experiences and problems with others who are in the same boat. Support groups are a part of an overall treatment plan and not recommended as the sole means of treatment.

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