Having worries or doubts is a natural part of life, however, many individuals find a great deal of their time is spent on excessive worrying that can feel overwhelming and uncontrollable. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is described as having persistent and excessive worry over a variety of different things. Individuals with GAD often live with a sense of impending disaster or doom and may find themselves distressed about health, finances, work, personal relationships, or other issues. While symptoms vary and can be mild to severe depending on the individual, some of the most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension and aches
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath
While most people experience worry from time to time, those with GAD find it challenging to control worrisome thoughts over long periods of time. Often, the worry is unwarranted and everyday routines can be enough to produce anxiety in those with GAD. Individuals with GAD are often aware of their unchecked worry but are unable to stop the worry cycle. This can interfere with professional and personal relationships.
In the U.S., more than 6.8 million individuals are affected by GAD and the disorder is more common in women than men. While GAD can develop at any age, the risk is greatest between childhood and middle age. It is not fully understood what determines GAD in individuals, though research suggests that biological factors, a family history of anxiety, and stressful life experiences have an impact on the likelihood of developing the disorder.
Treatment of GAD often involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which helps to permanently change thinking and behaviors. Often, CBT is successful on its own for those living with GAD, but medication can also be prescribed to help relieve some physical symptoms of anxiety, such as stomach aches and muscle tension. Commonly prescribed medications for GAD include antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications and are typically prescribed for short periods of time, as the risk of dependency can be higher in these medications.
In addition, lifestyle changes can also help those living with generalized anxiety disorder. These changes include increasing daily physical activity, practicing yoga and meditation, reducing caffeine intake and other stimulants and building a support system among friends and family to talk about worries and fears with.
With a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle modifications, most individuals living with GAD are able to manage their symptoms and perform daily functions professionally and personally. If you are concerned about your anxiety or are struggling with worry, we are here to help. Contact Pandora’s House today.