Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder or "GAD"
While it is normal for everyone to feel anxious from time to time, a constant level of worry that affects your day-to-day life could be a sign that you are suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD. The good news is that GAD is a treatable mental illness and if you believe you are suffering from it you should reach out to a medical professional.
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
People often feel stress about things in their life such as money, work, or family. However, those who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder feel a persistent level of worry over these areas and more even if there is little no reason to be concerned about them.
If you suffer from GAD you likely have difficulty controlling your worry despite your best efforts. Anxiety even over small events can be severe enough to negatively impact your day-to-day life. Often someone suffering from GAD may realize their stress is more than a situation warrants but may still find it difficult to put those feelings of anxiety to rest.
The symptoms of someone with GAD usually begin gradually and get worse over time. Besides an excess feeling of stress and worry, those suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder will often feel a sense of restlessness or being on edge. This feeling of restlessness often leads to difficulty relaxing and issues when attempting to fall asleep.
GAD can also cause headaches and unexplained pains in a person’s body. Difficulty when trying to concentrate on something and panic attacks are other common symptoms associated with GAD.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder can develop in someone either during childhood or as an adult. It is most likely to be diagnosed when a person experiences an overt amount of anxiety more days than not for at least six months along with at least three other symptoms as well.
Over 3% of the United States population suffer from Generalized Anxiety disorder. While the underlying causes of the disorder are unknown, it is believed environmental stress factors and family genetics play some role in the development of the disorder. Women are also twice as likely to be affected by GAD than men are.
Do I Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
If you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, our assessment may be a beneficial tool. Although the assessment can not be used as a definitive diagnosis, it can help to determine how many symptoms associated with anxiety a person may be facing.
We base our assessment questions on the criteria laid out by the fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Regardless to the results of the assessment, it is important to note that an anxiety disorder must be diagnosed by a trained medical professional.
How Is GAD Treated?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be treated in a variety of ways depending on the severity of the anxiety someone is feeling and how it influences their daily life. Both therapeutic treatment and prescription medication can be used to treat GAD at times.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is incredibly helpful when treating anxiety disorders. The use of talk therapies like this help people work through negative feelings like anxiety in objective ways and reinforces positive behavior.
A variety of different medications can also be prescribed for those suffering from severe anxiety. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly referred to as either SSRIs or SNRIs, are antidepressant drugs that have been used to lessen the symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium are also incredibly effective when prescribed to treat anxiety. When abused benzodiazepines can be habit forming and should always be taken following doctor’s orders.
Like most prescription drugs, side effects can occur to varying severity based on the individual taking them. It is best to start prescriptions on a lower dosage and slowly increase them as needed in order to prevent a bad reaction.
With help and the correct individualized treatment plan Generalized Anxiety Disorder is very treatable. If you are suffering from the symptoms of GAD you should immediately seek help from a medical professional.
Helpful Treatment Modalities Of GAD
Talk therapies are often the best way to treat anxiety disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, works to challenge a person’s assumptions and preexisting notions in order to produce healthier outcomes. CBT is especially effective for those who may have struggled with other treatment plans in the past.
CBT focuses on more recent events and experiences in order to better work on the thoughts a person currently has to work through. This goal is accomplished through a trained therapist leading conversations that challenge these thoughts and reframe the way in which they could be interpreted. By challenging all the thoughts that cause stress and, someone suffering from an anxiety disorder is better able to cope with these stress-inducing events out in the world.
A branch of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that is especially helpful in treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder is called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT. The core foundations of DBT works to help people accept change, regulate their emotions, and better cope with stress and worry.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy works on people who often only see the extreme sides of any situation or struggle with “black and white” thinking. By working to show people the neutral side or middle ground of a given problem we can better establish emotional regulation or coping strategies. DBT allows for people who struggle accepting change or feelings of stress to learn how to interpret events and manage their emotional reaction to them.
At Create Recovery Center of Los Angeles, we can help you deal with your Generalized Anxiety Disorder and the co-occurring mental illness that may occur with it. Anxiety disorders can be incredibly difficult to manage without help but with the right treatment plan it is treatable. Call us at 424.338.9072 to learn more.