Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is an excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of GAD tend to always expect disaster and can't stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. The feelings of excessive worry and anxiety generally occur more days than not for at least a 6 month period. In people with GAD, the worry is often unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread. Eventually, the anxiety so dominates the person's thinking that it interferes with daily functioning, including work, school, social activities, and relationships.

What Are the Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

GAD affects the way a person thinks, but the anxiety can lead to physical symptoms, as well. Symptoms of GAD can include:

  • Excessive, ongoing worry and tension
  • An unrealistic view of problems
  • Restlessness – always on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating

Physical symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle tension
  • Inability to relax
  • Irritability
  • Trembling
  • Sleep disturbed by worry - trouble falling or staying asleep

Behavioural symptoms include:

  • Avoiding news, newspapers
  • Restricting involvement in activities due to excessive worries about what could happen.
  • Being easily startled

In addition, people with GAD often have other anxiety disorders (such as panic disorder or phobias), obsessive-compulsive disorder, clinical depression, or additional problems with drug or alcohol misuse.

What Causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Though the exact cause of GAD is not fully known, there are a number of factors such as genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental stresses, which seemingly contribute to its development.

What is the treatment for GAD?
Treatment for GAD most often includes a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy. People living with anxiety disorders often participate in this type of therapy, in which you learn to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviours that lead to anxious feelings. This type of therapy helps limit distorted thinking by looking at worries more realistically.

Many psychological treatments, such as relaxation techniques, deep breathing, meditation, biofeedback and stress management, can also help with generalized anxiety.

* Adapted from various internet sources including WebMD, PsychCentral and CMHA