Introduction to Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Did you know that Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects approximately 3.1% of the US population each year? In fact, Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the 6 most common types of anxiety disorders.

When discussing Anxiety, a high percentage of people falsely believe that GAD is not a serious disorder, because everyone faces anxiety in high stress situations. For example, students feel high stress levels daily between projects and exams; and adults feel high stress levels when worrying about how they will provide for their family and attending job interviews. Essentially, most people relate anxiety disorders to a normal concern or worry over high stress situations.

GAD, on the other hand, is commonly described as an excessive worry over a timeframe of at least 6 months that occurs in more days than not, not solely in specific high stress situations. Someone suffering from GAD faces intense levels of worrying that interferes with their normal lives. Someone with GAD may face uncontrollable amounts of fear and panic over simple day to day activities

Although there is no specifically attributable cause of GAD, there may be a combination of factors that are involved. People with higher risk of developing GAD commonly have changes in brain functioning associated with GAD, a history of mental illness in their family, and/or major life changes. This disorder usually is characterized by a gradual onset over time and most people who suffer from it do not know when it began. However, many people can recognize that their tendency to worry has occurred for a long time. GAD is also more prevalent in women than men and on average develops around the age of 30; however, it can arise in any age group.

Common Warning Signs / Symptoms

  • Being a perfectionist.
  • Always asking “What If?”
  • Feeling insecure in oneself.
  • Requiring reassurance or approval.
  • Feeling anxious over different events or activities.
  • Having difficulty stopping to worry.
  • Difficulty concentrating due to anxious thoughts.
  • Difficulty sleeping due to anxious thoughts.
  • Feeling constantly tired due to anxious thoughts.
  • Muscle tension (commonly in back, neck and jaw)

 

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