What Is General Anxiety Disorder?

what is general anxiety disorder

What Is General Anxiety Disorder?

Typically beginning in adolescence or young adulthood, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a state of constant anxiety and worry about everyday life events, even when there is no apparent reason for concern. Key symptoms include irritability, difficulty concentrating, and restlessness or a feeling of being "edgy". Seeking psychotherapy may help.

We all feel anxious at one point or another – that’s completely normal! For instance, it’s not uncommon to feel nervous before an interview. The same can be said while waiting for medical test results. However, for some, worry and anxiety are constant companions.

If you can’t remember the last time you felt relaxed, you could be suffering from a condition known as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This condition usually grows slowly, typically beginning in adolescence or young adulthood. You may find that your symptoms improve or worsen at different times. Unsurprisingly, they generally worsen during stress. People may not realize that they have GAD. As a result, they might seek medical help for associated problems (such as headaches or insomnia) instead of the issue itself.

Wondering if you have GAD? Here are the most prominent symptoms.

Signs And Symptoms

GAD can impact both mental and physical health. As with most conditions, the severity of the symptoms will vary from person to person.

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Generally, a constant stream of worry for at least six months is enough to warrant a GAD diagnosis. However, if your anxiety is affecting your daily life, don’t hesitate to see your doctor. He or she may perform tests to ensure that other conditions like anemia or hyperthyroidism aren’t causing your symptoms.

Other mental health issues like depression can also cause similar symptoms. Although the feelings of depression (sadness and hopelessness) and anxiety (worry and fear) are different, many people have both. In fact, about 66 percent of people with GAD also have major depression. And about 2 percent of those with GAD have panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder. Therefore it is important to see a doctor to get the right diagnosis and proper treatment.

What Causes GAD?

While researchers still don’t understand what causes GAD, a combination of various factors could be at play.

Keep in mind that people who are not exposed to any of these factors can still develop GAD.

What Can You Do About It?

Psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two is usually used to treat GAD. Here are a few things that you could do to address anxiety:

Seek Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy usually used to treat GAD. It can help you understand how your thoughts affect behavior, giving you the tools to manage panic-inducing thoughts.

Take Care of Yourself: Simple healthy habits like adequate sleep, a consistent daily schedule, exercise, and a balanced diet can manage your condition. It also helps to get some fresh air for at least a few minutes each day. Talking to friends and family when you feel anxious or nervous is another excellent idea. Avoid alcohol and drug use, as these substances can worsen your condition.

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Join A Support Group: Sharing your problems with others who have similar experiences can work wonders. However, don’t forget that a support group can’t act as a substitute for psychotherapy or medication.

Practice Yoga: Yoga is another activity that may help. A study found that participants undergoing conventional treatment for GAD benefited from practicing yoga breathing techniques (Sudarshan Kriya Yoga). They showed significant improvements in both worry and physical symptoms of GAD. Yoga may thus be your answer to breathing easy.

Meditate: Meditation can also be a powerful addition to cognitive behavior therapy. In one study, a meditation program was developed to address anxiety. It included body scan meditation, a process that includes focusing your attention on one part of the body at a time, from bottom to top. The program also included sitting meditation and hatha yoga. Participants practiced for at least half an hour a day for eight weeks. At the end of the period, their worry, tension, and depressive symptoms significantly decreased.

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