Generalized Anxiety Disorder
These days, many people are suffering from Anxiety called GAD. It's natural to worry during stressful times. But some people feel tense and anxious day after day, even when there is little to worry about. When this lasts for six months or longer, it may be generalized anxiety disorder or GAD.
The main symptom of GAD is a constant and exaggerated sense of tension and anxiety. You may not be able to pinpoint a reason why you feel tense. Or you may worry too much about ordinary matters, such as bills, relationships, or your health. All this worrying can interfere with your sleep and ability to think straight. You may also feel irritable due to poor sleep or the illness itself.
Physical problems usually come along with the excess worry. They can include:
• Muscle tension or pain
• Nausea or diarrhea
• Trembling or twitching
In severe cases, GAD can interfere with work, relationships, and daily activities.
Genes passed down through a family may put some people at higher risk for anxiety, but that's not the whole picture. Scientists think that a mix of DNA, environment, and psychological factors are to blame. Researchers are looking at brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, as well as a pair of structures inside the brain called the amygdalae.
Treating GAD: Psychotherapy
One kind of talk therapy is very effective in treating anxiety. It's called cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. A counselor helps you identify negative thoughts and actions. CBT may include homework, such as writing down the thoughts that lead to excess worry. You will also learn calming strategies. People can feel better in three to four months. A combination of medicine and CBT often works best.
Some antidepressant drugs work well to lower anxiety. Brand names include Cymbalta, Effexor XR, Lexapro, and Paxil. It may take four to six weeks to feel better. Your doctor might prescribe a benzodiazepine for a short while. Brand names include Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax. These drugs carry a risk of dependence. Another drug called Buspar can also treat GAD. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of medications with your doctor.
You can support your treatment for GAD by making a few simple changes in your habits. Avoid caffeine, street drugs, and even some cold medicines, which can boost anxiety symptoms. Try to get enough rest and eat healthy foods. Try relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation. And be sure to exercise; there's evidence that moderate physical activity can have a calming effect.
GAD and Other Disorders
People who have GAD may also develop depression, alcoholism, or drug addiction. If one of these illnesses occurs, a second treatment plan may be needed. It's also common for people with GAD to have another anxiety disorder. These can include panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social phobia. more