Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an
marked by chronic, exaggerated worrying and anxiety about everyday life. The worry is so severe that it interferes with a person's ability to live their life.
GAD may be caused by:
An abnormal neurotransmitter system
GAD is nearly twice as common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chances of GAD:
People with GAD often have other anxiety disorders,
depression, and/or substance use disorders.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical and psychiatric exam will be done. Conditions with similar symptoms will be evaluated. Blood and urine tests may be done.
You will be asked about any medications that you are taking, including over the counter products, herbs, and supplements. Some medications can cause side effects similar to the symptoms of GAD. You will also be asked about any other substances that you may be using such as nicotine, caffeine, illegal drugs, prescription medications, and alcohol.
To make a diagnosis of GAD, symptoms must:
Be present more days than not
Be present for at least 6 months
Interfere with your life such as causing you to miss work or school
You may be referred to a psychotherapist for further evaluation.
If you have a mild form of GAD, your doctor will probably first have you try
to learn to manage anxious thoughts.
(CBT), your therapist will work with you to change your patterns of thinking. This will allow you to notice how you react to situations that cause anxiety. You will then learn to change your thinking so you can react differently. This can decrease the symptoms of anxiety.
Behavioral and Relaxation Therapy
Your therapist will teach you relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualization. Learning ways to relax can help you gain control over anxiety. Instead of reacting with worry and tension, you can learn to remain calm. Your therapist may also slowly expose you to the situations that cause worry and tension. This can allow you to reduce your anxiety in a safe environment.
works by attaching sensors to the body. A therapist helps you understand your body’s signals so you can use them to reduce your anxiety.
Medication can be prescribed for symptoms that are severe and make it difficult to function. Medications can help relieve symptoms so you can concentrate on getting better. It is important to note that many medications cannot be stopped quickly, but need to be tapered off. Check with your doctor before discontinuing any medication.
Medications may include:
Antidepressant, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of these medications. Some types may cause dependence.
There are no current guidelines to prevent GAD because the cause is unknown.
Last reviewed November 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 1/26/2016
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