Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is distinguished by resolute and excessive worry about a number of several things. People with GAD may expect disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. Individuals with GAD find it difficult to control their worry and they may despair more than seems assured about actual events or may expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern. GAD affects about 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year, with women being twice as likely to be affected. The disorder comes on steadily and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age.
Feeling nervous, irritable, or on edge
Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
Having an increased heart rate
Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation), sweating, and/or trembling
Feeling weak or tired
Having trouble sleeping
Experiencing gastrointestinal problems
a family history of anxiety
recent or prolonged exposure to stressful situations, including personal or family illnesses
excessive use of caffeine or tobacco, which can make existing anxiety worse
There are many treatments that can help with GAD, such as supportive and interpersonal therapy. Cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) has been more researched and particularly targets thoughts, physical symptoms, and behaviors including the over-preparation, planning, and avoidance that characterizes GAD. Mindfulness-based approaches and Acceptance Commitment Therapy have also been investigated with a positive outcome. All therapies help people change their relationship to their symptoms and can help people to understand the nature of anxiety itself, to be less afraid of the appearance of anxiety, and to help people make choices free of the presence of anxiety. There are a number of medication choices for GAD, usually the SSRIs either alone or in combination with therapy. Relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, exercise, and other alternative treatments may also become part of a treatment plan. When their anxiety level is mild to moderate or with treatment, people with GAD can function socially, have full and meaningful lives, and be gainfully employed.