What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Everyone worries – but generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) makes you worry all the time, even if you and your loved ones are safe and things are going well for you. GAD causes people to fixate on things that don’t pose a threat. The anxiety may eventually takes over your life, your work, your relationships, your daily routine, and your peace of mind.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders, but they all share one thing in common:  they make coping with everyday life very difficult because of excessive worry or phobia.  So what makes GAD different?

An Emotional Toll

We all get stressed out. Every day we face so many obstacles; whether real or imagined most people do their best to navigate life’s challenges and remain, for the most part, flexible to the curveballs that life brings. On the other hand, people with GAD often:

  • Worry constantly
  • Feel “on edge” or restless
  • Have trouble focusing or are unable to concentrate
  • Need to preplan and control every event
  • Panic if last minute changes or surprises occur
  • Experience feelings of dread

Physically Draining

GAD can affect your physical as well as your mental health. People with GAD often suffer from muscle tension, as well as digestive problems including diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Sleep disruption caused by constant worry and inability to relax can lead to chronic tiredness and overall fatigue. Heart problems have been shown to be linked to GAD as well.

Factors that May Affect GAD

Our understanding about GAD, and mental health disorders in general, has increased over the past decades, but there is much more research to be done. Still, doctors and researchers have found that many with GAD share similar factors, to include chemical imbalance in the brain and family and/or social environment in childhood and adolescence. Genetics may also play a factor, as well as individual personality.

Treating GAD

GAD requires treatment, and luckily there are more treatment options now than in past decades. Your doctor will base diagnosis and treatment on different tests and exams. First, a thorough physical exam will be done to eliminate the possibility of any physical illness or conditions that could be causing your symptoms. Your doctor may then refer you to a mental health specialist who has expertise in the different types of anxiety disorders. The two basic types of treatment for GAD are psychotherapy and medication.  

Psychotherapy, including talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, can teach ways of identifying and dealing with stressors and how they are reacted to. These tactics and techniques can eventually help those suffering from GAD to take control of their feelings, allowing them to regain control over their daily life.

Regarding medication, there are a few different types of medications currently approved for use in treating GAD. These include anti-depressants and sedatives. Generally, anti-depressants can take a few weeks before the benefit is felt, but they work well over the long term. In contrast, sedatives such as benzodiazepines are meant for short-term use for urgent situations. They can be addictive.

If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, or other mental health issues, contact Psy-Visions. We offer comprehensive, responsive care tailored to your individual needs. Psychiatrist Dr. Mark Stracks provides customized treatment that addresses the underlying physical and emotional issues causing your symptoms. Call (203) 405-1745 today and get the supportive care you need to help you resume control of your life or use our online form to request a consultation with Dr. Stracks.

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