Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Definition of generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition of excessive anxiety that tends to get out of control.

People with GAD do not feel ordinary anxiety, they can even be very restless even when they are not in a stressful situation or when nothing is going on. 

That's why, this condition is often referred to as chronic anxiety. For them, anxiety is like an enemy that can easily attack under any circumstances.

Although it is difficult to calm dowm, people who are experiencing GAD generally can only feel their own worries without being able to express them to others. Later, excessive anxiety for no reason will only hinder daily activities.

How common is generalized anxiety disorder?

This condition is quite common in adults. Even so, women have a greater tendency to experience this condition than men. If you experience any of these types of anxiety disorders, consult a mental health professional immediately.

Signs & symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a slowly developing condition. Initially, this condition begins in adolescence or young age. However, gradually, without expert treatment, this condition can get worse. 

Common symptoms that may arise

To be able to overcome it, you need to be sensitive and alert to the various symptoms of this type of anxiety disorder, including: 

  • Have excessive worrying about everyday problems
  • Not being able to control the worry or anxiety you have 
  • Realizing that the worries you feel are actually too much
  • Can't relax and relax
  • Can't concentrate
  • Easily startled or startled
  • Couldn't sleep well
  • Often feel tired
  • Headaches, muscle aches, stomach cramps, and a variety of pains for no apparent reason
  • Difficult chewing food
  • It's easy to get angry and upset
  • Easy sweating, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath

Advanced symptoms to watch for

If this happens to children, often the child will be overly concerned about the following:

  • Worried about bad grades or fear of losing in a sporting match
  • Worried about natural disasters, such as earthquakes or floods
Meanwhile, in adults, excessive worry is usually related to daily life, for example:

  • Performance at work 
  • Self and family health
  • Financial condition 
  • Homework and other responsibilities
Both children and adults with GAD usually experience physical symptoms that make it difficult to carry out daily activities.

Causes of generalized anxiety disorder

As with various other mental health disorders, the cause of generalized anxiety disorder occurs due to various factors, both biological and environmental, such as:

  • There are differences in function and chemicals in the brain
  • Genetic or hereditary factors
  • The process of growth and development and characteristics
  • Each individual's perspective on threats

Risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder

Compared to men, women are more often diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. There are several supporting risk factors for this, such as:

1. Characteristics of self

If you often feel shy and uncomfortable with other people, your risk of developing this condition is usually greater than for other people. Moreover, because you have these qualities, you tend to prefer to run away from problems because you don't dare to face them.

2. Hereditary factors

If there are family members who experience anxiety disorders, especially GAD, the potential for experiencing the same condition is certainly greater. The reason is, this condition can be passed down in the family. 

3. Certain experiences in life 

People's life experiences are different. However, some people experience severe trauma in their lives, unexpected changes, and various bitter experiences that others do not or may not experience.

These experiences that have a negative impact on life can be a trigger for this generalized anxiety disorder.

Diagnosis & treatment of generalized anxiety disorder

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your doctor.

How is generalized anxiety disorder diagnosed?

There are several things your doctor may do to check and diagnose your condition:

  • The doctor will perform a physical examination to look for any symptoms that may be related to the use of certain medications or medical conditions
  • Blood tests and urine tests if certain medical condition are suspected to be the cause of this generalized anxiety disorder
  • Ask in depth and in detail about the symptoms that appear and the medical history you have
  • Ask you for a questionnaire about your psychological condition to determine the right diagnosis

What are treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are several treatment options for this type of anxiety disorder, including:

1. Psychotherapy

One type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is usually used to treat generalized anxiety disorder.

CBT therapy will help patients to have a mindset, attitude, and respond to certain situations in different way. Usually, this helps the patient to feel less anxious and worried too much. 

2. Use of drugs

Your doctor may recommend certain medications to treat this condition if they feel that therapy alone isn't enough to treat it. There are several groups of medications, including antidepressants, that a patient may be prescribed, such as: 

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Other serotonergic drugs
  • Benzodiazepine drugs
These depression medications can also be used to relieve symptoms of GAD. Even so, this drug can only really work if taken for a few weeks. 

Home treatment for generalized anxiety disorder 

To support the GAD treatment process, do the following at home:

  • Exercise regularly 
  • Enough sleep 
  • Practice relaxation 
  • Eat healthy food
  • Avoid using illegal drugs 
  • Reduce alcohol consumption 
  • Quit smoking and reduce caffeine consumption