Disorder or GAD
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.2
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.
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.