Anxiety is feeling of tension, worry and fear. Anxiety causes the body organs to work faster and trigger release of stress hormones such as adrenaline. This causes different physical symptoms such as fast heart rate, palpitations, tremor, sweating, dry moth, headaches, nausea and difficulty breathing.
Anxiety normally occurs in stressful events. It can be helpful because in dangerous situations anxiety stimulates fight or flight response. People normally become anxious for certain reasons such as an upcoming exam. However, anxiety is abnormal if it becomes excessive and disproportionate to the cause of worry, appears when there is little or no cause, or persists for too long.
Many conditions have anxiety as their primary symptom. They are known as anxiety disorders and include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, acute reaction to stress, post-traumatic stress and other conditions. In following paragraphs we will deal with generalized anxiety disorder.
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
Generalized anxiety disorder is the condition featured by exaggerated feeling of worry and fear without obvious reasons. GAD causes constant anxiety over minor events, which interferes with daily functioning.
A person with generalized anxiety disorder also experiences restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, tiredness, stomach problems, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems.
Generalized anxiety disorder is common condition that affected 1 in every 50 individuals at some point of their life. It most often begins in adolescence and is more common in women than in men.
Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder is unknown. However, there are factors that contribute to its development. Genetics seems to play important role as many affected individuals have family history of the disease. Trauma and stressful events can also trigger generalized anxiety disorder. This includes abuse, death of a loved one or loss of job. Depression, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses can be accompanied with generalized anxiety disorder.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
A patient who exhibits symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder for at least six months must visit a mental health professional to get proper diagnosis and treatment. The doctor must rule out other anxiety disorders as well as other causes of anxiety such as certain medical conditions and substances that cause the same symptoms. This includes high intake of caffeine, side effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, illicit drugs, overactive thyroid, low blood sugar level, certain heart conditions and hormone-secreting tumors.
Generalized anxiety disorder can be treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications. Commonly used medications for GAD are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, benzodiazepines (alprazolam, lorazepam and clonazepam) and psychotropic drugs such as buspirone.