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Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD


Generalized Anxiety Disorder"I always thought I was just a worrier. I'd feel tensed 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."

"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 lightheaded. 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 stomachache, I'd think it was an ulcer."

People with generalized anxiety disorder go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to provoke it. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months.1  People with generalized anxiety disorder  can't seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They can't relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Physical symptoms that often accompany the anxiety include fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes.

When their anxiety level is mild, people with generalized anxiety disorder can function socially and hold down a job. Although they don't avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder, people with generalized anxiety disorder can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities if their anxiety is severe.

Generalized anxiety disorder  affects about 6.8 million adult Americans1 and about twice as many women as men.2 The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest 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 generalized anxiety disorder.1

Other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse2,3 often accompany generalized anxiety disorder, which rarely occurs alone. Generalized anxiety disorder can be treated with Alpha-Stim® use, medication, or cognitive-behavioral therapy.

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References
1. Kendler KS, Neale MC, Kessler RC, et al. Generalized anxiety disorder in women. A population-based twin study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1992; 49(4): 267-72.
2. Robins LN, Regier DA, eds. Psychiatric disorders in America: the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study. New York: The Free Press, 1991.
3. Regier DA, Rae DS, Narrow WE, et al. Prevalence of anxiety disorders and their comorbidity with mood and addictive disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry Supplement, 1998; (34): 24-8.
 

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder