Feeling anxious during any stressful event is a normal human tendency. However excessive anxiety and worry without any reason which is difficult to control and interfering with daily activity may indicate generalised anxiety disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about various things. People with GAD may anticipate disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. They expect worse in normal daily situations and worry without any apparent reason.

Symptoms of Anxiety

GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more symptoms

  • Feeling nervous, irritable
  • Having a sense of impending danger or doom
  • Palpitations(increased heart rate)
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation), sweating, and/or trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Trouble in inducing sleep
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems or stomach ache

Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. People with anxiety disorder don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and feel it is beyond their voluntary control, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. All anxiety disorders may relate to a difficulty tolerating uncertainty and therefore many people with GAD try to plan or control situations.

Causes of GAD

Like other mental disorders GAD arises from complex interactions between biological and environmental factors

  • Differences in brain chemistry and function
  • Genetics
  • Differences in the way threats are perceived
  • Development and personality

Diagnosis

Your doctor will-

  • Do a physical examination to look for signs if the anxiety is related to any underlying medical condition or medication
  • Order tests to rule out any medical condition causing symptoms
  • Ask details about medical history and symptoms
  • Ask psychological questionnaire to assess the condition

Treatment

Treatment depends on how significantly anxiety is affecting the day to day life. The two main treatment options for anxiety disorder is psychological therapy and medications.

Psychotherapy or talk therapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective form of psychotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder. It focuses on teaching specific skills to manage your worries and gradually return to activities that were avoided due to anxiety.

Several type of antianxiety medications may be advised by the psychiatrist to help with the symptoms.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes that are advised are-

  • Being active and following an exercise regime is advised.
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Follow relaxation exercises and meditation
  • Eat healthy and follow a balanced diet.
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs
  • Cut down on caffeine and smoking
  • Seek support from friends and family
  • Join a a support group who suffer with similar issues.

Ignoring the problem when you are suffering on the daily basis will not be helpful. Also well meaning advices like “it will go on its own”, or “take control of your own life” won’t be helpful. If you suffer due to excessive anxiety, seek medical help as it is a medical condition which needs to be treated.

-Dr Prerna Gaur

Acknowledgements

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder

 

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