Generalized Anxiety Disorder

This disorder is characterized as anxiety lasting for a minimum period of six  months, this anxiety is not normally accompanied by phobias or panic attacks. To  be diagnosed as having generalized anxiety disorder, your fear must be focused  on at least two stressful situations or circumstances (perhaps relationship  worries, finance, health etc), this fear must occur on most days during a six  month period. If you are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder it is quite  normal for you to spend a lot of your waking hours worrying, also the severity  of the worry will be out of proportion to the actual probability of the feared  event happening.

In addition to continual worry this disorder will involve having three or  more of the following list of six symptoms, with some of these symptoms being  present most days during the past six month period.

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Getting tired easily
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Tense muscles
  • Feeling restless or keyed up

 

If your doctor has told you that you are suffering from generalized anxiety  disorder, he or she will have ruled out (by examination or tests) any medical  reason for your unremitting anxiety, such as a thyroid problem, breathing  incorrectly (hyperventilation) or perhaps drug induced anxiety. In many  sufferers depression can also accompany the anxiety and it is difficult to  determine which disorder is primary and which is secondary.

Generalized anxiety disorder often develops in childhood and if not  recognised and treated will carry forward into adult life. It can also present  itself in the adult population at any time, often coming out of the blue when a  person least expects it.

Although it is not thought that specific phobias are present in generalized  anxiety disorder research has shown the disorder is often sustained by basic  fears such as in the following list.

  • Fear of illness or death
  • Fear of non accomplishment or failure
  • Fear of being rejected
  • Fear of losing control of the situation
  • Fear of being unable to cope

 

The disorder can be exasperated by stressful situations that will elicit one  or more of the above listed fears and worries. The underlying cause of  generalized anxiety disorder is largely unknown although it is thought to  involve childhood experiences and heredity factors amongst other triggers.

Treatment methods include:

  • Distraction therapy – takes your mind away from your worries
  • Lifestyle change – to include exercise, diet, stress management
  • Relaxation training – breathing techniques and deep relaxation methods
  • Cognitive therapy – worrying thoughts are replaced with realistic  thinking
  • Medication – Buspar (an anti-anxiety drug) has been found to be helpful for  this type of anxiety disorder and may be used in combination with an SSRI  medication

 

If you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from this disorder then  seek help, initially from your family doctor who will discuss treatment options  and may refer you to a specialist who has more experience of generalized anxiety  disorder. Help is available, you do not have to suffer in silence.

© Andrew Tudor Jones