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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

(also known as simply GAD) is much more than the normal anxiety people experience from day to day. It's chronic and fills one's day with exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to provoke it.

Someone with this disorder is always anticipating disaster and often worries excessively about health, family, work or money troubles. Sometimes the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint and simply just the thought of getting through the day can provoke anxiety.

"I always thought I was just a worrier. I'd feel keyed up and unable to relax. At times it would come and go, and at times it would be constant. It could go on for days. I'd worry about what I was going to fix for a dinner party, or what would be a great present for somebody. I just couldn't let something go."

GAD symptoms

People with GAD can't seem to shake their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. Their worries are accompanied by physical symptoms, especially headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, muscle tension, difficulty swallowing, trembling, sweating, twitching, irritability, and hot flashes. People with GAD may feel light-headed or out of breath. They also may feel nauseated or have to go to the bathroom frequently.

Individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder seem unable to relax, and they may startle more easily than other people. They tend to have difficulty concentrating, too. Often, they have trouble falling or staying asleep.

Unlike people with other anxiety disorders, people with G.A.D. don't tend to avoid certain situations as a result of their anxiety disorder. When impairment associated with G.A.D. is mild, people with the disorder may be able to function in social settings or on the job. If severe, however, Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be very debilitating, making it difficult to carry out even the most ordinary day-to-day tasks.

"I'd have terrible sleeping problems. There were times I'd wake up wired in the middle of the night. I had trouble concentrating, even reading the newspaper or a novel. Sometimes I'd feel a little light-headed. My heart would race or pound. And that would make me worry more. I was always imagining things were worse than they really were: when I got a stomach ache, I'd think it was an ulcer."

"When my problems were at their worst, I'd miss work and feel just terrible about it. Then I worried that I'd lose my job. My life was miserable until I got treatment."

Who suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

This Disorder affects about 8 million adults in the US and UK alone and about twice as many women as men. The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is higher between childhood and middle age. It is diagnosed when someone spends at least 6 months worrying excessively about a number of everyday problems.

There is evidence that genes play a modest role in GAD. This, like all anxiety conditions, can be treated with a carefully structured anxiety management programme.

If you are struggling to deal with GAD, we advise you look into taking steps to overcome it. You dont have to suffer with this disorder. There are various programs available that have be proven to help sufferers get their life back.

There are solutions though - many of which don't use drug therapy.