Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common anxiety disorders. As the name implies, it is the excessive, unnecessary tension and worry about everyday activities and general events with no proper reasoning or genuine cause for the anxiety. Women more often suffer with GAD than men. Individuals with GAD worry about issues at work, financial issues, health and family issues by imagining worse situations and worrying about them the whole day. This interferes with their daily life and relationships.
Even kids can develop generalized anxiety disorder. Kids usually worry about performance at school or things that are going to happen in the days to come.
The common symptoms of GAD in both adults and kids include:
- Getting easily tired
- Muscle tension
- Frequent urge to go to the toilet
- Feeling out of breath
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Difficulty to sleep
- Not able to concentrate
The different causes for GAD are:
- Genetics: Family history of anxiety disorder increases the chances of getting GAD. Genes play an important role in passing the disorder through generations.
- Brain Chemistry: Brain produces certain chemicals called neurotransmitters to process information through different cells. An imbalance in these neurotransmitters leads to anxiety disorders.
- Environmental Factors: Stressful events such as changing job or school, distressing events in marital life, death of a loved one can trigger GAD.
The simple lifestyle changes that you can do to reduce stress are:
- Exercise: Practicing routine exercises is very important. Exercising programs such as yoga or aerobics should be done at least five times in a week to be effective. You should start with simple exercises. The time and intensity of the exercise should be increased slowly .It should be done under the guidance of a trained professional.
- Healthy Diet: A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin B is helpful in preventing mood swings. Avoid unhealthy sugary, fatty and processed foods. Eat more of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid alcohol and foods containing caffeine such as coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.
- Do breathing and meditation exercises to relax when tensed.
- Sleep well: For children 10 hours of sleep is necessary and for adults seven hours are sufficient.
- Socialize: Talk your worries out, with your friends and family. It helps to reduce anxiety.
- Do not worry about things you cannot change like a bad boss or a traffic jam. Whenever these things bother you, divert your mind to more pleasant things that have happened to you or that you have planned for the day.
- Make a list of things to-do on a regular basis and check them as you complete. This list helps you check and completed the things that most bother you. It also help you prioritize and try completing the tasks.
Incase these things do not help. Consult your doctor. You may be referred to the mental health professional, if required.
Generalized anxiety disorder may also lead to other health problems such as:
- Substance abuse
- Digestive and bowel problems
- Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
It is often associated with other anxiety disorders, depression or substance of abuse
Before meeting the doctor you should make a note of:
- The major changes and conditions that put you under stress
- The symptoms that you experience when feeling anxious. Also note as to, when often they occur and how they affect the daily life activities.
- Carry the prescription of any current illness for which you are taking medicines regularly
- Discuss about any over-the-counter drugs such as pain medications or vitamin supplement you are using.
Generalized anxiety disorders are treated with medications and psychotherapy. Broadly the medications are same for all anxiety disorders. Psychotherapy for GAD involves defining the factors causing stress and negative feelings first through open talks with the patient. Mostly the conditions causing it cannot be changed. Psychotherapy will help by teaching how to change negative feelings associated with stress to positive thoughts and how to respond to them. Thus gaining more control on oneself when under stress.