Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems at one time or another. But people with GAD are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They may be very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.

Common psychological symptoms

People with GAD:

  • worry very much about everyday things for at least six months,
  • even if there is little or no reason to worry about them
  • can't control their constant worries
  • know that they worry much more than they should
  • can't relax
  • have a hard time concentrating
  • are easily startled
  • have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

Common body symptoms are:

  • feeling tired for no reason
  • headaches muscle tension and aches
  • having a hard time swallowing
  • trembling or twitching
  • being irritable
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • feeling lightheaded
  • feeling out of breath
  • having to go to the bathroom a lot
  • hot flashes.

When does GAD start?

GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the time between childhood and middle age. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and often are worse during times of stress. People with GAD may visit a doctor many times before they find out they have this disorder. They ask their doctors to help them with the signs of GAD, such as headaches or trouble falling asleep, but don’t always get the help they need right away. It may take doctors some time to be sure that a person has GAD instead of something else.

Is there help?

There is help for people with GAD. The first step is to go to a doctor or health clinic to talk about symptoms. People who think they have GAD may write their problems and bring it to the doctor, to help them talk about the symptoms in it.

The doctor will do an exam to make sure that another physical problem isn’t causing the symptoms. The doctor may make a referral to a mental health specialist.

Doctors may prescribe medication to help relieve GAD. It’s important to know that some of these medicines may take a few weeks to start working.

The kinds of medicines used to treat GAD are listed below. Some are used to treat other problems, such as depression, but also are helpful for GAD:

  • antidepressants
  • anti-anxiety medicines
  • beta blockers.

Doctors also may ask people with GAD to go to therapy with a  psychologist, or psychiatrist. This treatment can help people with GAD feel less anxious and fearful. Treatments can give relief to people who have it and help them live a more normal life.

If you know someone with signs of GAD, talk to him or her about seeing a doctor.