Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is a psychiatric problem in which anxiety is not a temporary state but a chronic condition. While it is normal for individuals to worry about an upcoming event such as an examination or job interview, patients with GAD are in a perpetual state of anxiety; unable to relax. The disorder may become so severe that it interferes with school, work or relationships. A pervasive disorder, GAD affects millions of individuals in the United States alone. More than twice as many women as men suffer from the disorder.
Causes of GAD
Who is more prone to developing GAD? While precise causes for GAD have not been determined, the disorder is believed to be the result of abnormalities in the brain that may be, at least partially, hereditary. Hormonal changes, like those that occur before or during menstruation or menopause, may be a factor in the development of the disorder. This accounts for the fact that females are noticeably more prone to the condition than men. GAD is thought to be exacerbated by environmental factors like trauma or extreme stress.
Symptoms of GAD
Symptoms of GAD, most commonly begin during childhood or adolescence, but may manifest in adulthood. These symptoms may be both psychological and physiological. Often diffuse, these symptoms may be accompanied by a fear of dying.
- Excessive worry about small things
- Perpetual worry
- Anxiiety without a perceived cause
- Fear or dread
- Inability to relax
- Restlessness, irritability, tension
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme or frequent startle response
- Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
- Headaches, fatigue, nausea, lightheadedness
- Muscle aches, muscle twitching
- Palpitations, chest pain
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Other aches and pains
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Hot flashes or sweating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry mouth
Generalized anxiety disorder is typically diagnosed through a complete medical history and a psychological evaluation. Another critical factor in diagnosing this disorder is a personalized approach because the causes and severity of anxiety in every individual are different. Dr. Arceo Psychiatric Services has highly professional and empathetic doctors for anxiety in Las Vegas who perform diagnosis and treatment on a personalized level.
To be diagnosed with GAD, a patient has to meet the following criteria:
- Experience extreme anxiety for at least 6 months
- Be unable to overcome or control anxiety
- Have difficulty with everyday activities because of anxiety
- Have anxiety unrelated to another medical or psychiatric disorder
In addition, to be diagnosed with GAD, an adult patient normally experience at least three of the following, and children experience at least one:
- Sleep disturbances
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty concentrating
Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is typically treated through a combination of medication and psychotherapy52. The types of drugs commonly prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder include antidepressants, tranquilizers, buspirone, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines. These medications may differ in the length of time they require to provide symptomatic relief. Sometimes patients are given benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, to use temporarily until other medications, such as antidepressants, take effect. Several varieties of psychotherapy may be used in treating GAD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is beneficial.
Alternative therapies, including various relaxation techniques and meditation, are reported to assist some patients in maintaining a sense of calm. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants, can also help relieve the symptoms of GAD. A robust support system of family and friends is also beneficial.
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