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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder. Irrational worry is its distinguishing feature. To be diagnosed with this illness, one must suffer symptoms for at least 6 months. Sufferers of generalized anxiety disorder generally fear for the worst. Common day-to-day issues that would interfere with their daily living would be things like family problems, health issues, personal relationship issues, money issues, work difficulties and death, to name a few. GAD-7 is a scale used to help determine how severe one’s level of general anxiety disorder is.

Signs

Some of the signs, as given by the DSM-IV, are: worry and anxiety in excessive amounts, worry is difficult to control by the individual, the worry and anxiety are linked to other symptoms (i.e. restlessness, fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, sleep problems, and/or muscle tension), worry and anxiety focus not the same as other disorders in DSM, and/or substance-induced worry and anxiety.

Some other signs include: symptoms of tension (i.e. being on edge, muscle tension, difficulty swallowing, restlessness), autonomic arousal symptoms (i.e. sweating, dry mouth, shaking, palpitations), general symptoms (i.e. cold chills, hot flashes, numbness), symptoms with mind and brain (i.e. fear of losing control, derealization, dizziness, fear of death), and symptoms connected with abdomen and chest (i.e. choking feeling, nausea, difficulty breathing, chest pain).

Causes

Generalized anxiety disorder is a chronic disease. However, with the right treatment and management it can be controlled and the feelings of worry and anxiety can be lifted. Generalized anxiety disorder is thought to start early on in the individual’s life. A crisis or life stressor is generally what activates it sometime in the individual’s early adulthood. On top of stress being believed to be a cause, it is also believed that genetics plays a role as well. It is thought to be passed on through family members.

Substance use can also help to cause generalized anxiety disorder. Alcohol and benzodiazepine are both believed to help cause anxiety disorders, if taken in large amounts over a long period of time. Tobacco and caffeine are also believed to contribute to anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder.

Neurological issues are also believed to contribute to generalized anxiety disorder. The amygdala is the part of the brain that controls fear and anxiety. It is believed that if there is a connectivity problem with the amygdala, such anxiety issues can occur in a person.

Management

A combination of therapy and medication is believed to be the best way of battling generalized anxiety disorder. Some kinds of therapy include: intolerance of uncertainty therapy, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are generally thought to be the best medication to be used when treating generalized anxiety disorder.

Members of this drug family that have proven to be effective are: paroxetine, citalopram, fluoxetine, and sertraline. Other drugs that work include: pregabalin, guanfacine, venlafaxine, propranolol, buspirone, imipramine afobazole, prazosin, guanfacine, duloxetine and clonidine, to name a few.

Prognosis

As mentioned before, generalized anxiety disorder is chronic. It may last up to 20 years, if it does not get treated. The individual’s daily life can be quite impacted by it. However, if properly treated (some studies show almost 50% being successfully treated within weeks however, treatment takes generally about a year) a person can live a worry-free life.

 

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