What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Generalized anxiety disorder can include headaches as a symptom.
Generalized anxiety disorder can include headaches as a symptom.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a psychological condition which belongs to the family of anxiety disorders, psychological disorders characterized by having anxiety as a key feature. People can develop generalized anxiety disorder at any age, with the condition being about twice as common in women as in men. There are a number of treatments which can be used to address this condition, depending on the specifics of the patient, and there is no reason to suffer from GAD without treatment.

Anxiety can be accompanied by insomnia.
Anxiety can be accompanied by insomnia.

People with generalized anxiety disorder experience constant feelings of worry and anxiety which do not necessarily center around a particular thing. They may feel like they have to be constantly prepared for disaster or catastrophe, stressing out about everything from money to social situations. Some people develop panic attacks and other signs of severe stress, and these in turns may be a cause of anxiety, as the patient may feel uncomfortable in public because he or she is worried about developing a panic attack.

Deep breathing can help people relax in stressful situations.
Deep breathing can help people relax in stressful situations.

In addition to anxiety, the patient may also develop fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, impatience, headaches, nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating, and irritability. For some patients, the level of anxiety may be relatively low, but in others, generalized anxiety disorder causes a disruptive level of anxiety, making it difficult for the patient to live a normal, active life. If this persists for more than six months, the patient requires treatment. A diagnosis can be provided by a psychiatrist, who can offer some treatment options to the patient.

Generalized anxiety is characterized by excessive worrying.
Generalized anxiety is characterized by excessive worrying.

Several types of medication can assist with generalized anxiety disorder, including anti-anxiety drugs which can be used to manage the anxiety and related symptoms, along with antidepressants, which may help the patient achieve a more balanced mental state. It is believed that GAD originates in the brain, in the form of problems with neurotransmitters and the balance of chemicals in the brain, and the use of medications can help restore a more normal level of these chemicals to make the patient feel more comfortable.

Generalized anxiety disorder is the clinical diagnosis for pervasive anxiety in an individual.
Generalized anxiety disorder is the clinical diagnosis for pervasive anxiety in an individual.

Psychotherapy can also help with generalized anxiety disorder. Sessions with a therapist may be able to help a patient get at the root cause of the anxiety, and to address specific situations and issues, such as the desire to be able to go out and socialize with friends. Psychotherapy can be used as an alternative or supplement to medication, depending on the patient and the treatment approach of the patient's psychiatrist.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

bluedolphin

From my personal experience, vitamin and mineral supplements help a lot with GAD. People with anxiety usually have magnesium and vitamin B12 deficiencies. I take these regularly for this reason.

discographer

@turkay1-- I'm not a doctor but I don't think that generalized anxiety disorder is permanent. It's true that some of us have a chemical imbalance in our brain where we don't have enough serotonin. This leads to generalized anxiety disorder symptoms and depression.

But at the same time, there is always an environmental trigger that's causing this problem in us. It might be a stressful job, a problematic family life or a health condition. I think that generalized anxiety disorder can be treated by avoiding the environmental factors that trigger it.

Medications are there to help us when we're in our worst stage. Because someone who has severe anxiety cannot think logically and change their life.

candyquilt

I've just been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I have been suffering from anxiety attacks for some time now. My doctor put me on anti-anxiety medications and I'm feeling better already. I'm just worried that I will rely on medication for the rest of my life.

Is general anxiety usually a permanent disorder? Can I get better in time?

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    • Generalized anxiety disorder can include headaches as a symptom.
      By: Subbotina Anna
      Generalized anxiety disorder can include headaches as a symptom.
    • Anxiety can be accompanied by insomnia.
      By: Dan Race
      Anxiety can be accompanied by insomnia.
    • Deep breathing can help people relax in stressful situations.
      By: byheaven
      Deep breathing can help people relax in stressful situations.
    • Generalized anxiety is characterized by excessive worrying.
      By: David Stuart
      Generalized anxiety is characterized by excessive worrying.
    • Generalized anxiety disorder is the clinical diagnosis for pervasive anxiety in an individual.
      By: kmiragaya
      Generalized anxiety disorder is the clinical diagnosis for pervasive anxiety in an individual.
    • Anxiety attacks may be triggered by certain events or situations for people with a generalized anxiety disorder.
      By: Andrew Lever
      Anxiety attacks may be triggered by certain events or situations for people with a generalized anxiety disorder.
    • An individual suffering from generalized anxiety disorder may experience impatience and excessive sweating.
      By: camrocker
      An individual suffering from generalized anxiety disorder may experience impatience and excessive sweating.
    • A person with generalized anxiety disorder may suffer from panic attacks.
      By: blanche
      A person with generalized anxiety disorder may suffer from panic attacks.