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Generalized anxiety disorder
What is the difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder?
What it is: It’s common to feel anxious from time to time, especially when facing stress. However, excessive, continuous anxiety and worry that feel difficult to control and affect day-to-day activities may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder. General anxiety disorder can manifest in both children and adults. Living with generalized anxiety disorder is a long-term challenge. In most cases, it occurs with other anxiety or mood disorders simultaneously. In most cases, generalized activity disorder can be improved with medications or psychotherapy. Making lifestyle changes, learning some coping skills, or using relaxation strategies can also help.
- Persistent worry or anxiety that is out of proportion to the actual impact of the events
- Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes
- Perceiving situations as threatening even when they are not
- Difficulty handling uncertainty
- Fear of making wrong decisions and indecisiveness
- Inability to set aside worries
- Feeling reckless, on edge, or inability to relax
- Difficulty concentrating or feeling your mind “go blank”
Physical signs and symptoms
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle aches
- Feeling twitchy or trembling
- Easily startled or nervousness
- Nausea, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome
Causes: Like many mental health conditions, causes for GAD likely arise from complex interactions with biological and environmental factors including:
- Differences in brain chemistry and function
- Differences in the way threats are perceived
- Development and personality
When to see a doctor: Some anxiety is normal, but see your doctor if:
- You feel like you worry too much and it’s interfering with your work or relationships
- You feel depressed or irritable, have trouble with drinking or drugs, or you have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
- You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors
In this case, seek emergency treatment immediately
Treatment: Decisions are based on how significantly GAD is affecting your ability to function. The two main treatments for GAD are psychotherapy and medication, though you may benefit most from a combination of the two.
- Psychotherapy: Also known as talk therapy or counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective form of psychotherapy for GAD. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you specific skills to directly manage your worries and return to the activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety
- Medications: Always talk to your doctor about benefits, risks, and possible side effects. The medications below are sometimes used to treat GAD.
– Antidepressants: These are the first line of medication treatments. Examples of those used to treat anxiety disorder: Lexapro, Cymbalta, Paxil. Your doctor may also recommend others.
– Buspirone: Anti-anxiety medication that typically takes several weeks to become effective.