WHAT IS… GENERALISED ANXIETY DISORDER?
It’s natural to experience anxiety from time to time, especially if your life is stressful. Although any disturbance in our mental health is worrying and feels unwanted, it is simply a communication from the body that something is wrong and needs addressing. On the other hand, excessive, ongoing anxiety and worry that is difficult to control and interferes with daily activities may be a sign of generalised anxiety disorder.
As with all disorders, GAD exists on a spectrum with health at one end and disorder at the other. We can all place ourselves somewhere along the line, and this will move around depending on a specific source or current life events. For example, people suffering from depression may experience anxiety on occasion, while those with a phobia may feel nervous when exposed to the stimulus (giant spider, standing on a high building) but would be fine at other times. People with GAD worry about various topics over a long period (6 months or more) and often are unable to identify the root cause of their anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder shares symptoms with panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other types of anxiety, but they are all distinct from each other. Environmental and genetic factors may both be causes and risk factors for GAD. Symptoms include feeling restless, tense, or on edge, struggling to concentrate and having recurring thoughts about a source of concern, such as finances. Gastrointestinal disturbances, muscle tension, twitching, trembling, and sweating are somatic symptoms that can go alongside the psychological features. They may also have difficulty sleeping. GAD can also interfere with daily activities such as work or school.
Doctors do not know why GAD occurs, but it may be related to serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. People often feel better when they use drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which help keep these hormones circulating.
There may be times when your worries do not consume you completely, but you still feel anxious for no apparent reason. For example, you may be concerned about your own or your loved ones’ safety, or you may have a general sense that something bad is about to happen. You experience significant distress because of your anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms in social, work, or other areas of your life. Worries can shift from one to the next and change with time and age.
Living with generalized anxiety disorder can be a long-term challenge. It frequently coexists with other anxiety or mood disorders. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder improves with psychotherapy or medications. Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques also can help. Anyone who suspects they have GAD should seek medical attention. Early treatment of GAD may aid in the prevention of complications such as depression and social isolation.
We have members in our team who are trained to treat GAD. If you would like to book for an initial consultation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.