Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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Generalized anxiety disorder is a psychiatric disorder that affects approximately four million Americans each year. This condition often affects men more than women and most commonly develops in childhood or adolescence, thought it can also begin in adulthood. For most people with generalized anxiety disorder, the condition fluctuates in severity and may persist for several years.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worry and nervousness about everyday things. The severity of a patient's distress in a given situation is generally far greater than the circumstances warrant. This anxiety is typically present everyday of one's life and drastically affects their daily functioning. In generalized anxiety disorder, this excessive worry is chronic, lasting at least six months. Generalized anxiety disorder may also occur in people with other anxiety or mental health disorders.

People with generalized anxiety disorder worry excessively about various activities or events. This disproportionate distress may focus on major issues such as family, job, finances, or health. While all people naturally worry about these issues to a certain extent, the nervousness experienced by people with generalized anxiety disorder is far greater and significantly disrupts their daily lives. People with GAD may also worry about more mundane things like chores, appointments, and the like.

There is no exact known cause of generalized anxiety disorder. Some findings indicate that generalized anxiety disorder may run in families, though no specific gene has been linked to this condition. Generalized anxiety is often worsened by stress, though it is unclear whether or not this is a causal factor in developing the disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder is often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are not always dramatic. Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder may be unaware that their excessive worry may signify a treatable disorder. An unfamiliar physician may not be able to identify a patient's symptoms as characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety can also be cause by the use or discontinuation of a certain medication. If you experience the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, you should also inform your doctor about medications you have recently used or are currently using. In addition to the excess distress experienced by people with generalized anxiety disorder, patients may also experience physical symptoms. Muscle tension, sweating, nausea, jumpiness, gastrointestinal problems, and cold clammy hands may all be physical manifestations of generalized anxiety disorder.

There are some treatments available to people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. Usually a good treatment is a blend of psychotherapy and medication. Medications like benzodiazepines, Buspirone, and SSRIs may be prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder. These drugs may cause adverse side effects, including addiction and worsened symptoms. You may wish to discuss with a doctor before beginning a new treatment regiment.

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