What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Reviewed Mar 2, 2017

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Summary

When anxious thinking affects functioning, it is important to seek the help of a doctor or professional therapist. Consider how the problem is affecting health, relationships, work, parenting, and spirituality.
 

Everyone worries from time to time about all kinds of things. Worry itself is quite normal. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition of too much worrying. If anxious thoughts seem to be increasing, it may signal a problem. Worry has to do with fears. Sometimes worrying can occur even when there is no clear cause. Fears can be confusing and may not make sense to the person who has them.

Fears may be based on real issues, but when worry becomes troubling enough that it is affecting sleep, appetite, concentration, ability to work, or ability to have relationships, it may be GAD.

How do I know if I have it?

One way to think about the severity of worry or anxiety is to ask the following questions:

  • “How is anxiety affecting my ability to function?”
  • “Is it interfering with how I interact with people I love?”
  • “Is it creating health concerns?”
  • “Is it impairing parenting or work or school?” 
  • “How much time do I spend worrying each day?”

If anxiety is leading to constant worrying it may be GAD. Perhaps thoughts often become negative and frightening. GAD occurs more often in women than in men. It can be a condition passed on from one generation to the next.

There are some common traits that most people with GAD share. They include: a negative outlook on how things will turn out, a desire to be accepted by everyone, and a feeling that things must be “perfect.” Anxious people tend to feel there is a way that they “should” be. Also, often people with anxiety lack stress management skills. People with GAD often have exhaustion from ignoring body signs that stress is building and resulting in constant anxious thinking.

Examples of anxious thinking:

  • “I will never finish this work, and my job depends on it.”
  • “What if he doesn’t like me?”
  • “Nothing I do ever turns out well. What if I can’t cope?”
  • “I can’t concentrate or get anything done.”

In addition to anxious thoughts, people with GAD experience some of these symptoms:

  • Inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or awakening too early
  • Feeling fearful and engaging in behaviors like use of drugs or alcohol to avoid problems
  • Experiencing stomachaches, headaches, tense muscles, and teeth grinding at night
  • Taking no enjoyment or satisfaction in activities you normally enjoy because of worrying about the future
  • Appetite change
  • Rapid heartbeat even when sitting or resting
  • Difficulty making decisions because of worry
  • Scary and overwhelming thoughts

GAD is fairly common, and there are lots of reasons to be hopeful. It is treatable and can get better. Reaching out for help is an important first step in recovering from GAD.

Treatment for GAD can involve taking medicine and/or talk therapy. Recovery may also mean learning relaxation techniques and other stress management skills. Some people find help from spiritual practices. Improving self-esteem and changing inaccurate thoughts can also be helpful in overcoming GAD. Most people recover from GAD with a combination of therapy and medication. GAD may feel overwhelming, but there are many ways the condition can improve.

By Rebecca Steil-Lambert, MSW, LICSW, MPH
Source: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

When anxious thinking affects functioning, it is important to seek the help of a doctor or professional therapist. Consider how the problem is affecting health, relationships, work, parenting, and spirituality.
 

Everyone worries from time to time about all kinds of things. Worry itself is quite normal. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition of too much worrying. If anxious thoughts seem to be increasing, it may signal a problem. Worry has to do with fears. Sometimes worrying can occur even when there is no clear cause. Fears can be confusing and may not make sense to the person who has them.

Fears may be based on real issues, but when worry becomes troubling enough that it is affecting sleep, appetite, concentration, ability to work, or ability to have relationships, it may be GAD.

How do I know if I have it?

One way to think about the severity of worry or anxiety is to ask the following questions:

  • “How is anxiety affecting my ability to function?”
  • “Is it interfering with how I interact with people I love?”
  • “Is it creating health concerns?”
  • “Is it impairing parenting or work or school?” 
  • “How much time do I spend worrying each day?”

If anxiety is leading to constant worrying it may be GAD. Perhaps thoughts often become negative and frightening. GAD occurs more often in women than in men. It can be a condition passed on from one generation to the next.

There are some common traits that most people with GAD share. They include: a negative outlook on how things will turn out, a desire to be accepted by everyone, and a feeling that things must be “perfect.” Anxious people tend to feel there is a way that they “should” be. Also, often people with anxiety lack stress management skills. People with GAD often have exhaustion from ignoring body signs that stress is building and resulting in constant anxious thinking.

Examples of anxious thinking:

  • “I will never finish this work, and my job depends on it.”
  • “What if he doesn’t like me?”
  • “Nothing I do ever turns out well. What if I can’t cope?”
  • “I can’t concentrate or get anything done.”

In addition to anxious thoughts, people with GAD experience some of these symptoms:

  • Inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or awakening too early
  • Feeling fearful and engaging in behaviors like use of drugs or alcohol to avoid problems
  • Experiencing stomachaches, headaches, tense muscles, and teeth grinding at night
  • Taking no enjoyment or satisfaction in activities you normally enjoy because of worrying about the future
  • Appetite change
  • Rapid heartbeat even when sitting or resting
  • Difficulty making decisions because of worry
  • Scary and overwhelming thoughts

GAD is fairly common, and there are lots of reasons to be hopeful. It is treatable and can get better. Reaching out for help is an important first step in recovering from GAD.

Treatment for GAD can involve taking medicine and/or talk therapy. Recovery may also mean learning relaxation techniques and other stress management skills. Some people find help from spiritual practices. Improving self-esteem and changing inaccurate thoughts can also be helpful in overcoming GAD. Most people recover from GAD with a combination of therapy and medication. GAD may feel overwhelming, but there are many ways the condition can improve.

By Rebecca Steil-Lambert, MSW, LICSW, MPH
Source: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

When anxious thinking affects functioning, it is important to seek the help of a doctor or professional therapist. Consider how the problem is affecting health, relationships, work, parenting, and spirituality.
 

Everyone worries from time to time about all kinds of things. Worry itself is quite normal. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition of too much worrying. If anxious thoughts seem to be increasing, it may signal a problem. Worry has to do with fears. Sometimes worrying can occur even when there is no clear cause. Fears can be confusing and may not make sense to the person who has them.

Fears may be based on real issues, but when worry becomes troubling enough that it is affecting sleep, appetite, concentration, ability to work, or ability to have relationships, it may be GAD.

How do I know if I have it?

One way to think about the severity of worry or anxiety is to ask the following questions:

  • “How is anxiety affecting my ability to function?”
  • “Is it interfering with how I interact with people I love?”
  • “Is it creating health concerns?”
  • “Is it impairing parenting or work or school?” 
  • “How much time do I spend worrying each day?”

If anxiety is leading to constant worrying it may be GAD. Perhaps thoughts often become negative and frightening. GAD occurs more often in women than in men. It can be a condition passed on from one generation to the next.

There are some common traits that most people with GAD share. They include: a negative outlook on how things will turn out, a desire to be accepted by everyone, and a feeling that things must be “perfect.” Anxious people tend to feel there is a way that they “should” be. Also, often people with anxiety lack stress management skills. People with GAD often have exhaustion from ignoring body signs that stress is building and resulting in constant anxious thinking.

Examples of anxious thinking:

  • “I will never finish this work, and my job depends on it.”
  • “What if he doesn’t like me?”
  • “Nothing I do ever turns out well. What if I can’t cope?”
  • “I can’t concentrate or get anything done.”

In addition to anxious thoughts, people with GAD experience some of these symptoms:

  • Inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or awakening too early
  • Feeling fearful and engaging in behaviors like use of drugs or alcohol to avoid problems
  • Experiencing stomachaches, headaches, tense muscles, and teeth grinding at night
  • Taking no enjoyment or satisfaction in activities you normally enjoy because of worrying about the future
  • Appetite change
  • Rapid heartbeat even when sitting or resting
  • Difficulty making decisions because of worry
  • Scary and overwhelming thoughts

GAD is fairly common, and there are lots of reasons to be hopeful. It is treatable and can get better. Reaching out for help is an important first step in recovering from GAD.

Treatment for GAD can involve taking medicine and/or talk therapy. Recovery may also mean learning relaxation techniques and other stress management skills. Some people find help from spiritual practices. Improving self-esteem and changing inaccurate thoughts can also be helpful in overcoming GAD. Most people recover from GAD with a combination of therapy and medication. GAD may feel overwhelming, but there are many ways the condition can improve.

By Rebecca Steil-Lambert, MSW, LICSW, MPH
Source: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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