There are countless anxiety disorders out there. You’re probably more familiar with obsessive-compulsive disorder, known as OCD. But there is also a disorder known as general anxiety disorder, or GAD. Somewhere around 6.8 million Americans suffer from general anxiety disorder.
What Exactly Is General Anxiety Disorder?
A person with general anxiety disorder suffers from excessive and irrational worry about everyday things. The worry is disproportionate and uncontrollable. They worry about things like health issues, money, death, family and friend problems, or work difficulties. They also typically anticipate disasters or catastrophes for no reason.
What Are The Symptoms Of General Anxiety Disorder?
People suffering from general anxiety disorder have multiple symptoms – and they’re the same symptoms associated with all anxiety disorders. They experience fatigue and fidgeting. They get headaches and experience strong nausea. They have muscle aches and tension, difficulty swallowing, and twitching. They also suffer from trembling, sweating, insomnia and hot flashes, as well as irritability. Unfortunately, these symptoms are on-going in general anxiety disorder sufferers.
How Is General Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed?
When looking at someone who could be suffering from general anxiety disorder, doctors try to determine if the person in question meets a certain set of criteria. The person must suffer from excessive anxiety about a number of different situations, and the anxiety must have occurred more days than not in the previous six months. The person must have extreme difficulty controlling the worry. The worry must be associated with three or more of these symptoms: restlessness; being easily fatigued; irritability; muscle tension; difficultly falling asleep or staying asleep, and difficulty concentrating.
Doctors also look to make sure the anxiety is not associated with any other kind of anxiety disorder. For instance, if the person was afraid of being embarrassed in public, the doctor would know he suffers from social anxiety disorder, not general anxiety disorder. They are also very careful to make sure the symptoms are not being caused by a substance, such as drugs or medication, or any medical disorders, such as hyperthyroidism.
How Common Is General Anxiety Disorder?
The last World Health Organization global study did not include general anxiety disorder. However, we do have some statistics. 3 percent of adults in Australia are diagnosed with it, while in Canada, the number is 3 to 5 percent. 2.9 percent of adults in Italy suffer from general anxiety disorder, while in the United States, approximately 3.1 percent of adults are diagnosed.
How Is General Anxiety Disorder Treated?
Therapists use cognitive behavior therapy to help treat general anxiety disorder. The therapist aims to get the patient to understand how their thoughts and feelings influence their everyday behavior, helping them to recognize how damaging their thought pattern is. The aim is to change the negative thought patterns that lead to the anxiety in the first place and replace them with positive thoughts. Sufferers are also treated using SSRIs, drugs designed to chemically control anxiety in patients.
Can General Anxiety Disorder Be Cured?
General anxiety disorder is one of the anxiety disorders that can be all-but-alleviated with proper treatment. If treated correctly, sufferers can go on to live anxiety-free lives – well, almost, since life is stressful, of course. But they don’t have to be debilitated by fears that don’t make any sense, and can really start to enjoy their lives.