What is generalized anxiety disorder, causes, symptoms and treatment?

The different, ranging from phobias to obsessive-compulsive disorder, always have  Generalized Anxiety Disorder as their protagonist, a very common problem and one that more and more people suffer from. It is a kind of chronic anxiety, an anxiety that is attached to our lives and begins to paralyze us.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by two fundamental factors: worry and tension. Up to a certain point, it is totally normal for us to worry about the things that affect us to a greater or lesser extent on a daily basis (health problems, money problems, family problems…), but when that concern becomes excessive and is not motivated by any real danger, we are already talking about an anxiety.

We tell you everything you need to know about Generalized Anxiety Disorder: causes, symptoms, treatment… Pay close attention and solve it in time!

Warning signs and symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) does not appear overnight. It develops gradually and usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood. These are the most frequent warning signs and to which attention should be paid to determine if you suffer or not:

  • The person who suffers from it worries about the most everyday things.
  • Situations and events are perceived as threatening even when they are not.
  • You have trouble forgetting and controlling these worries, and you experience constant feelings of nervousness.
  • The person who suffers from it feels restless all the time and has great difficulty in relaxing.
  • Great concentration problems are experienced.
  • Those who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder think too much about future plans and solutions to all the worst possible circumstances and problems.
  • It is difficult to face situations of uncertainty.
  • The person who suffers from it is usually characterized by having an indecisive temperament and an excessive fear of making the wrong decisions.

GAD is a very common condition. Although it is true that it tends to occur more frequently in women than in men, anyone is susceptible to it, including children.

In the case of adults, the most common concerns that generate GAD are usually focused on the following aspects:

  • Safety at work or job performance.
  • Health (both own and of children and close relatives).
  • Economy.
  • Household chores and other daily responsibilities.

In the case of children, their concerns are focused on:

  • Their performance, both at school and in the different extracurricular activities they carry out (mainly sports).
  • Catastrophes such as earthquakes or wars.
  • Arrive on time (punctuality)

The worry, tension and fear characteristic of Generalized Anxiety Disorder also generate a series of physical and psychological symptoms that can often be confused with symptoms of depression. Among those symptoms are:

  • The nervousness.
  • Palpitations or tachycardia.
  • The insomnia.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea or diarrhea.
  • Problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or ulcers.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Headache and migraines.
  • Fatigue.
  • Tremors.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Heart problems.

Added to all of the above, this Generalized Anxiety Disorder is what sometimes leads to the dreaded anxiety, which are the most violent (although fortunately temporary) manifestations of this type of disorder.

GAD symptoms can get better or worse depending on the time and day. In general, the most common thing is that they increase in times of stress: during a physical illness, during exam times or exhausting periods of work, during a family conflict or as a result of problems with a partner or between friends.

Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Sometimes Generalized Anxiety Disorder is hereditary, although, to be honest, no one today knows for sure why it develops in some people.

Perhaps it will help us to understand the cause of this generalized anxiety if we understand  how anxiety works. And it is that anxiety does not always have to be negative, but rather its original function is to act as a fundamental alarm mechanism for survival. For this reason, concern for economics, work, family problems, etc. it is positive as long as it helps us to solve those problems, to find the solution. It is when the anxiety alarm mechanism goes off for no reason or stays activated longer than necessary that anxiety becomes pathology.

When to go to the doctor?

We emphasize it: anxiety is not bad as long as it does not condition your daily life. If you suffer from any of the symptoms indicated below, it is best to see a doctor or professional as soon as possible:

  • Your worries are constant and excessive to the point of interfering in your work, in your personal relationships or in other aspects of your life.
  • You feel depressed, listless and very irritable.
  • you have suicidal. In the latter case, you should seek help immediately!

Treatment of generalized anxiety disorder

The first step to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder we have to take ourselves, but it involves going to the family doctor. As soon as you notice that this excessive concern for everything is beginning to affect your daily life, as soon as sleep problems, irritability and the tension of being in a state of permanent alert appear, the best thing to do is go to the doctor.

Talk to him about your symptoms. Tell him how you feel, don’t shut up at all. He will examine you and check your medical history to make sure your anxiety is not caused by some unrelated physical problem.

The doctor may recommend some drugs to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder, drugs that you should use with caution given their high degree of dependence, but that can be very useful in the event of an anxiety attack.

However, your doctor will most likely recommend that you see a mental health specialist such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. To tell the truth, the most recommended treatment for this anxiety disorder is psychological therapy, which will help you manage and control anxiety the most.

In any case, you can always help yourself with alternative therapies or home. And something that always works, if you give it the attention it deserves, is breathing exercises.

The most important thing in these cases is NOT to abandon the treatment. Just as the TAG does not appear overnight, neither does it suddenly disappear. For this reason, it is essential to be patient and follow the treatment for as long as the specialist indicates and until you begin to notice the results.

In addition, a healthy lifestyle can also help you combat this unwanted disorder. Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise, eat a healthy diet, and turn to family and trusted friends when you feel powerless and unmotivated to continue. They will help you!

Prevention

Although it is true that a person cannot be prevented from suffering from a Generalized Anxiety Disorder, measures can be taken to reduce the effect of its symptoms. Write down the following:

Ask for help as soon as possible: the longer you wait, the more the symptoms will increase and the more difficult it will be to solve them. Seek help and don’t let anxiety progress.

Use a personal diary: something very effective that can help both you and your doctor to detect the causes of your stress and anxiety is to keep a record of your day to day and of those things that cause you the most stress and nerves.

Establish priorities: they say that it is better not to leave until tomorrow what you can do today, but it is not a matter of doing everything right now. Can you postpone some things? Do it. Focus only and solely on the essential.

Avoid the consumption of harmful substances: the intake of certain substances such as alcohol and drugs, and even nicotine and caffeine, can cause anxiety to appear or worsen its symptoms. If you feel that you cannot stop them on your own, you can turn to a professional to help you with a treatment program.

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