10 Minutes

By THE BALANCE
Fact checked

Beyond a doubt, present-day life is full of the hustle and bustle, where innumerable tensions and worries keep undulating around the minds of humans and indulge individuals into droves of mental health anomalies, and indeed, generalized anxiety disorder is also one of them. It is marked by a group of diversified indications of exorbitantly worrying thoughts that make a person distracted from his work, instigate to avoid and ignore his daily tasks, and fidget his mind.

Persons going through generalized anxiety disorder often get disoriented and start getting worrisome imagination even on illogical subjects. Their minds always remain knocked up that something disastrous horrendous event is going to turn up. Furthermore, in people cropping up with generalized anxiety disorder, it is often a hard nut to crack to locate the pre-eminent cause behind these unwelcomed indications.

This GAD reportedly impacts about 6% of the population, and women are prevalently becoming prey to this disorder twice more than men. The people living with this mental illness more often feel joyless, depressed, disconnected, and irked. And in addition to these mood indications, there also exist a long row of bodily indexes, including excessive sweating, trembling, dizziness, hot and cold flashes, and twitching.

Generalized anxiety disorder is a psychic disorder characterized by excessive worry and anxiety about many daily life events (for example, problems at work or school). It can last for at least six months. Occasional anxiety is normal, and you worry about money, family, or health problems. 

But people with GAD feel incredibly nervous or worried about different things, even when there is no need to worry about them. People with generalized anxiety disorder find it uncontrollable to worry about various things, which affects their ability to work appropriately in occupational, social, or other areas of life.

According to psychological health experts, about 3% of US adults have experienced generalized anxiety disorder during the last year, and about 9% of people experience it at some stage of their lives. But with good treatment, including psychotherapy and medication, they can go through it easily. 

Fears, doubts, and worries are regular parts of our lives. It is normal to worry about your financial situation after having an unexpected bill or an upcoming exam. The differences between GAD and normal anxiety disorder are:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder affects your daily life activities, but normal worry doesn’t.
  • In GAD, your worries are extremely stressful and upsetting, while usual concerns being unpleasant, do not cause stress.
  • You can control your everyday worries but can’t prevent generalized anxiety disorder.
  • In GAD, you always expect something worse will happen, while normal worries are limited to specific, realistic concerns.
  • Normal worry lasts only for a short period, and in comparison, GAD lasts for about six months. 

Researchers have not developed even a single specific cause of generalized anxiety disorder yet. Evidence shows that many factors play a leading role in the development of generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the common reasons include:

Genetics

It’s common for people to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder who has any GAD family history, which means if any of your parents had GAD, then there are lots of chances for you to develop it. Researchers suggest that you have a 30% chance of developing generalized anxiety disorder if your parent had that. Specific genes can also affect personality traits that are linked with generalized anxiety disorder. For example, people with high levels of neuroticism are closer to depressed mood and anxiety. 

Trauma

Psychological health research has found that trauma can increase the risk of developing GAD. Challenging experiences such as mental and physical abuse, death of a loved one, neglect, divorce, abandonment, and isolation are all contributing factors. When a person experiences difficult situations that leave them feeling humiliated, uncertain, or afraid of trusting others, it can be expected that he is suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder. 

Societal Factors 

Research has found that the uncontrolled and excessive use of social media can also affect our psychical health. At the same time, these are one of the main reasons for GAD and depression. Social media interactions are negative and challenging in nature, which results in feelings of loneliness, rejection, and humiliation. People affected with generalized anxiety disorder can often interpret social interactions and cues accurately, whether online or in real life. 

Neurological Factors

It is considered that changes in the following neurotransmitters play a role in the development of generalized anxiety disorder:

  • Dopamine 
  • Norepinephrine
  • Serotonin
  • (GABA) Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid

Abnormal levels of some other chemicals such as hormones or peptides also cause generalized anxiety disorder. Furthermore, defective cognitive functioning is also linked with generalized anxiety disorder in both children and adults. 

Lifestyle Factors

Lifestyle factors like relationships or substance use are also contributing factors.

  • Substance use: daily use of addictive substances like caffeine increases the feelings of nervousness or depression, contributing to the development of generalized anxiety disorder. Moreover, relying on caffeine sources like soda, tea, energy drinks, and coffee causes people to feel anxious, stressed, and restless. 
  • Relationships: relationship is a source of comfort for people but also causes pain sometimes. Frightening and dangerous experiences within intimate relationships can also lead to the development of generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Job stress: while looking for a job, you can find yourself competing with other people that are highly experienced and qualified, causing GAD. Stress about career, work, and job loss is the most common reason for generalized anxiety disorder. 

Risk factors are something that increases your risk of getting a condition or disease. For sure, it is possible to have GAD with or without risk factors. However, the more risk factors you tackle, the greater the chances of developing a generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the common risk factors for GAD include:

Family History

Anxiety problems tend to run in generations. The issue may be due to family attributes, such as overprotective behaviours, the failure to learn valuable coping skills, violence, and abuse. 

Substance Abuse

Cocaine, cannabis, nicotine, and alcohol abuse increase the risk of developing a generalized anxiety disorder.

Depression

Generalized anxiety disorder usually occurs with depression, particularly chronic mild depression (dysthymia) or major depression. Youngsters with depression seem especially at risk for developing a generalized anxiety disorder. 

Cultural Factors

Research made in 2000 found that GAD rates among adolescents and children have increased a lot since 1950. 

Unforgettable Stressful Events

Generalized anxiety disorder is more likely in people with a history of:

  • Lower education level
  • Traumatic event_emotional or physical
  • Separation, divorce, or being widowed
  • Childhood neglect or abuse

Medical Conditions

People with unexplained physical conditions like migraine, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic pain are greater at risk. 

Ethnic and Socioeconomic Factors

Members of minority ethnic groups, significantly immigrants, have greater chances of developing GAD. This is due to problems adjusting to an entirely new culture, alienation, loss of strong family ties, and feelings of inferiority. 

Generalized anxiety disorder has mild symptoms compared to other forms of anxiety, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or panic attacks. If you are confronting a generalized anxiety disorder, you know better that your anxiety is more intense than normal worry. But you cannot stop these concerns. Symptoms occur differently in different people. 

Psychological Symptoms

  • Feeling edgy or tense
  • Irritability, overly depressed
  • Difficulty forgetfulness, concentrating
  • Excessive ongoing tension and worry
  • Grouchiness

Physical Symptoms

  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest pain 
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle tension
  • Diarrhoea
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Restlessness
  • Trembling
  • Dry mouth 
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Irritability
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Lump in the throat 
  • headache
  • Unable to relax
  • Being easily startled
  • Twitching
  • Urinating frequently
  • Hot flashes
  • Exhaustion
  • Rapid breathing
  • Dizziness

Symptoms Of GAD Among Children

Children with generalized anxiety disorder worry rigorously about:

  • School performance
  • Sports performance
  • Catastrophes such as wars or earthquakes

Symptoms Of GAD Among Adults

Adults with generalized anxiety commonly worry about daily circumstances such as:

  • Finances
  • Job performance or security
  • Health
  • Being late
  • The health of their children
  • Completing household tasks and other commitments

Children and young people with a generalized anxiety disorder(GAD) can experience physical symptoms that affect their daily lives. It is necessary not to ignore the destructive effects of worry on our health. You should talk to your doctor if these statements are factual:

  • If you have three or more of the above symptoms
  • If you find it difficult to control your worry for about six months

Drugs addiction gives instant satiation to the mind from depressing and troubling thoughts. Still, at the same time, they are known to be the significant invaders to your sound health and indulge you in intricate health complexities. People succumbing to a generalized anxiety disorder are more likely to soothe their GAD by taking alcohol or various other drugs. 

What causes Anxiety attacks

The intake of these substances gives you temporary relief from symptoms; on the other hand, in reality, these substances go in hand in hand to worsen your generalized anxiety disorder. Nowadays, generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorder mostly appear to occur jointly in our community. 

Treatment For Sanctioning Drug Abuse And Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People who have a concurring condition of both drug abuse and generalized anxiety disorder must go for a rehabilitation procedure that will let you treat both conditions because ignorance to the treatment of one can relapse you to the other condition. The use of antibiotics and non-addictive medications can do your best for a sanctioning state of both disorders. Once people with generalized anxiety disorder stop using alcohol or drugs, their GAD symptoms sometimes reappear or get worse. Moreover, a therapy session with those who have recovered from this condition will make up your courage and give you the ultimate motivation for recovery.

If you are suffering from GAD, there are lots of treatments that can help. It is necessary to remember that generalized anxiety disorder is a highly treatable condition, and there are many chances for you to improve your symptoms. Treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder depend upon the intensity of symptoms and how they affect your daily body functioning. Psychotherapy and medications are the most recommended treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder. 

Psychotherapy

Psychological counselling or psychotherapy is found very useful for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. Psychotherapy can help people control or eliminate symptoms having harmful impacts on their lives and help them feel better. Psychotherapy is also helpful in cognitive-behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and other talk therapies. 

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy

CBT is one of the known treatments for GAD and is also the gold standard of psychotherapy. After its effectiveness in adults, it has also proven effective in younger patients. Furthermore, it also helps children to manage anxiety in a better way. Typically, cognitive behavioural therapy consists of 8-15 hours long sessions, but these can also depend upon the severity of the symptoms. 

Acceptance And Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy is another therapy used to treat generalized anxiety disorder. Acceptance and commitment therapy aims to reduce the struggle to control uncomfortable sensations or depressed and anxious thoughts. It also increases interest in different beneficial activities and improves symptoms of people with GAD. 

Some Other Psychotherapies

Two other psychotherapies, psychodynamic and interpersonal therapy, are also effective for generalized anxiety disorder. 

  • Psychodynamic therapy: This therapy removes buried emotions and negative feelings affecting the patient’s daily life. 
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy is a time-limited and focused therapy that helps a person remove his mental stress and recover his symptoms. 

Medication

Sometimes, medication is recommended for individuals with generalized anxiety disorder as a part of their treatment. Psychiatrists usually prescribe medication, physician’s assistants, or psychiatric nurse practitioners specializing in behavioural health. There are different medicines used in the treatment of GAD, and some of these are:

  • SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)
  • Anxiolytics such as benzodiazepine, bromazepam, diazepam, and chlorazepate etc.
  • SNRIs
  • Tri-cyclic antidepressants

But make it necessary to take these medications after the doctor’s prescription. 

Changes In Lifestyle

Similar to psychotherapy and medication, some changes in your lifestyle are also necessary to improve your life. You should follow relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and others to enhance your ability to manage anxiety and relieve symptoms. Some lifestyle changes that can help are:

  • Exercise
  • Having good sleep
  • Eating healthy
  • Quitting substance use
  • Quit smoking and stop or reduce coffee

Although generalized anxiety disorder is recoverable, long-term delinquency can embed you in a long row of ongoing health complications resulting in a life full of annoyance. The indications of GAD, on average, can linger on for more than six months. 

The persistent symptoms, on the one hand, give you psychiatric problems, and on the other hand, bodily fatigue and restlessness, so you should try to make an effective strategy to keep the loss at a minimum. Before visiting a therapist for therapy, you should list all the queries you want to ask. It has been evident that the indications of generalized anxiety disorder often get chronic but less inexorable with age.