Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by feelings of exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to substantiate the feelings. People with this disorder:

• Often anticipate disaster
• Are overly concerned about health issues
• Overly concerned about money
• Overly concerned with family problems
• Overly concerned with difficulties at work
• Some people feel anxiety with thoughts of just getting through the day

When is generalized anxiety disorder diagnosed?

• When a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months

It is common for people with this disorder to realize their anxiety is more intense than the situation calls for, yet are still unable to get rid of their concerns.

Symptoms include:

• Unable to relax
• Easy to get startled
• Difficulty with concentration

Physical symptoms include:

• Fatigue
• Headaches
• Muscle tension
• Muscle aches
• Difficulty swallowing
• Trembling
• Twitching
• Irritability
• Sweating
• Nausea
• Lightheadedness
• Going to the bathroom frequently
• Feeling out of breath
• Hot flashes

Are people with GAD able to function adequately?

• When anxiety levels are mild, they can function socially and hold down a job
• They do not generally avoid certain situations
• They may have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities if their anxiety is severe

How many people are affected by this disorder?

• GAD affects about 6.8 million adult Americans

Who is most likely to be affected?

• About twice as many women as men
• The disorder starts gradually and can begin across the life cycle
• The risk is highest between childhood and middle age

Is this disorder carried in our genes?

• There is evidence that genes play a “modest” role in GAD

Are there ever any other illnesses present with this disorder?

• GAD rarely occurs alone
• Other anxiety disorders such as depression or substance abuse is often present

Is there treatment for generalized anxiety disorder?

• Treatment often consists of medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy
• Co-occurring conditions must also be treated with appropriate therapies.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional

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© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

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