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Article title: Generalized Anxiety Disorder: NWHIC
Conditions: Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is much more than the normal anxiety people experience day to day. Itís chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even though nothing seems to provoke it. Having this disorder means always anticipating disaster, often worrying excessively about health, money, family, or work. Sometimes, though, the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint. Simply the thought of getting through the day provokes anxiety.
People with GAD canít seem to shake their concerns even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. People with GAD also seem unable to relax. They often have trouble falling or staying asleep. Their worries are accompanied by physical symptoms, especially trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating, or hot flashes. They may feel lightheaded or out of breath. They may feel nauseated or have to go to the bathroom frequently. Or they might feel as though they have a lump in their throat.
Many individuals with GAD startle more easily than other people. They tend to feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and sometimes suffer from depression, too.
Usually, the impairment associated with GAD is mild and people with the disorder donít feel too restricted in social settings or on the job. Unlike many other anxiety disorders, people with GAD donít characteristically avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder. However, if severe, GAD can be very debilitating, making it difficult to do even the most ordinary daily tasks.
GAD comes on gradually and most often hits people in childhood or adolescence, but can also begin in adulthood. Itís more common in women than in men and often occurs in relatives of affected persons. Itís diagnosed when someone spends at least 6 months worried excessively about a number of everyday problems. In general, the symptoms of GAD seem to diminish with age. Successful treatments may include a medication called buspirone. Research into the effectiveness of other medication, such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants, is ongoing. Also useful are cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and biofeedback to control muscle tension.
You can find out more about anxiety disorders and their treatments by contacting the following organizations:
Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy
305 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Freedom from Fear
308 Seaview Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305
National Mental Health Consumersí Self-Help Clearinghouse 1-800-553-4539
National Mental Health Association 1-800-969-6642
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill 1-800-950-6264
This information was abstracted from Anxiety Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health.
All material contained in the FAQs is free of copyright restrictions, and may be copied, reproduced, or duplicated without permission of the Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services; citation of the sources is appreciated.
Publication date: 1998
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