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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

What is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) ?

We’ve all been nervous before an exam or an interview, worried about our finances, or stressed over deadlines at work. This anxiety that we face on regular days is normal, and in fact, helps us perform better. A person suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), however, feels an exaggerated sense of worry or anxiety for prolonged periods of time, and for no apparent reason. These feelings are uncontrollable and in most cases, the person is aware that their anxiety is unwarranted. For example, even the thought of completing daily tasks makes them anxious.  

What are the symptoms of GAD?

The symptoms of GAD are similar to those of otheranxiety disorders. The most common symptoms are:

  • Behavioral symptoms: The person becomes irritable, gets startled easily and has trouble concentrating.

  • Physical symptoms: The physical symptoms include fatigue, nausea, head and body aches, sweating, shortness of breath and dizziness.

If someone you know has been exhibiting these symptoms, you should try and talk to them about seeking professional help.

What are the causes of GAD?

As with many other mental health issues, the exact cause of GAD is not known. Research suggests that parts of the brain and neurotransmitters may be involved in causing fear and anxiety. Sometimes, if a parent has suffered from mental illness, there is a possibility that the child may develop anxiety issues. Psychosocial factors such as daily stress, work pressure, financial problems, etc., may cause GAD. However, there is no known definite cause for GAD.

Getting treatment for GAD

GAD can cause a lot of distress to a person but it is treatable. Treatment of GAD usually involves medication or psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is known to be an especially effective therapy used to treat GAD. Medications help the person deal with the pangs of anxiety.

Caring for someone with GAD

If you know someone who is showing symptoms of GAD, you can play a big role in helping them recover. At the outset, you could learn about the disorder so that you will be able to understand what the person is going through. Encourage the person to seek professional help; telling them about the effectiveness of treatment or therapy. Offer to accompany them to medical appointments. 

Coping with GAD

Although there are many self-help techniques to manage the symptoms of GAD, you should first consult a mental health professional to get a thorough diagnosis and the required treatment plan. You could use coping techniques along with your treatment but not as a substitute to it. Meditation and relaxation techniques are an effective way to get relief from anxiety, which in the long run help reduce anxiety levels altogether. Improving your lifestyle with habits such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can have a positive effect.