Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Learn About Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Are you a Worrier? Could it be GAD?

While concern and even worry are normative human experiences, there are those for whom worry, tension, concern, and anxiety dominate their lives. They are in a constant state of hyperarousal - manifest by an exaggerated startle reflex, difficulty staying focused and concentrated, difficulty relaxing, and problems initiating and maintaining sleep. Oftentimes these people have no idea what they are worried or anxious about; but what they do recognize is that their fear and worry is irrational or out-of-proportion to what is provoking it.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is common. Starting in the teen years or young adulthood, it develops slowly. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and often are worse during times of stress. Sometimes the disorder runs in families.

Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder may be psychological (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Rational Emotive Therapy) or biological (medication). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves the powerful technique of “cognitive restructuring” to re-orient the conscious mind towards a more adaptive posture with respect to illness-driven thoughts and behaviors. Rational Emotive Therapy involves surfacing and challenging the irrational beliefs that are responsible for symptom production. Medication approaches include the drugs that affect the neurotransmitter serotonin (such as Prozac) and the benzodiazepines (such as Klonopin). Either approach may be effective in a given patient; some patients require both approaches. In any case, the outcome of treatment tends to be good.

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