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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Explained

Everyone feels anxious from time to time, especially during the more stressful events that occur in life. However, if you’re experiencing consistent and excessive anxiety day in and day out, you may have a mental health disorder known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

GAD is characterized by ongoing anxiety and worry that’s difficult to control and interferes with an individual’s everyday activities. It’s possible to develop this mood disorder as a child or gradually as an adult, and its symptoms are very similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder (PD), and other types of anxiety – although each is its own distinct mental health condition.

Living with GAD can pose many long-term challenges in life. More often than not, GAD occurs with other mood disorders, including Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as well as the conditions mentioned above. Mental health professionals typically diagnose GAD in individuals when the worrying and feelings of anxiousness persist on almost a daily basis for a period of six months. This is considered to be to the point of prohibiting a person from living a normal life.

 

The Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD tends to develop when an individual is unable to cope with their internal stress, which is seen in the areas of the brain that control fear and anxiety. It can also be a side effect of medicine or substance use, or it can be related to certain medical conditions that increase hormone activity.

The most common symptoms of GAD include:

  • the persistent worrying or feelings of anxiousness about things that are not proportionate to the impact of the actual events
  • overthinking plans and solutions to all potential worst-case scenarios
  • perceiving situations and events to be threatening when they aren’t
  • trouble coping with uncertainty
  • indecisiveness and fear of making a wrong decision
  • the inability to let go of worry, even temporarily
  • the inability to relax and constantly feeling restless or on edge
  • difficulty concentrating

There are also physical symptoms associated with GAD, such as:

  • trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • fatigue
  • muscle tension and aches
  • feeling twitchy, trembling
  • nervousness, being easily startled, states of hypervigilance
  • sweating
  • irritability
  • nausea, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

There may be times when these feelings don’t completely consume the individual with GAD, however, they’ll still feel anxious when there’s no reason to. This could cause significant distress in social situations, at work, or in other areas of a person’s life. The worry may also change from one concern to another and change with time and age.

 

How Is GAD Treated?

When it comes to diagnosing GAD, a mental health professional will take into consideration an individual’s overall health and several other factors to determine the right course of treatment.

The treatment can include one or more of the following, depending on the individual case:

  • medication, including antidepressants
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • relaxation techniques
  • coping techniques
  • making lifestyle changes to reduce stress and become healthier physically and mentally, which often includes avoiding stimulating substances, smoking, alcohol, and even illicit substance use
  • LSD has also been cleared by the FDA for clinical trials for the potential treatment of mood disorders

If you believe you have GAD, please contact us immediately to set up an appointment so that you can start a path toward feeling better!