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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by a constant sense of worry and fear that interferes with daily life. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder may experience feelings of dread, distress, or agitation for no discernible reason - psychiatrists refer to this unexplained, trigger-less anxiety as "free floating anxiety".
Those with GAD may constantly expect the worst, and worry about things like work, money, their family and friends, or their health, even when there's no realistic cause to be concerned. The anxiety experienced with this disorder may occur for a specific reason or be triggered by an event, but be disproportionately great or unrealistic for the situation.
General Anxiety Disorder can turn into a cycle of excessive worrying. Though many people with GAD realize that their worry is unrealistic or unwarranted, feelings of anxiety persist and seem unmanageable, leaving sufferers feeling out of control. Some of those afflicted can still lead normal lives with productive jobs and active social lives, but be constantly internally struggling with worry and distress.
You may suffer from GAD if you experience the following symptoms:
Symptoms of GAD vary in intensity - the anxiety experienced can get better or worse at certain points. Sometimes symptoms may decrease, allowing those afflicted to lead normal lives, and then suddenly pick up in severity, preventing normal functioning.
It's hard to identify a single cause for GAD - contributing risk factors include genetics, brain chemistry, or trauma. Individuals who have experienced long-term stress, chemical imbalances, or a family history of anxiety have an increased risk of having GAD. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men, and while the average onset of GAD is 31 years old, the disorder develops gradually and can begin at any time in the life cycle. GAD usually first presents itself in the years between childhood and middle age.
Clinical treatments for GAD typically utilize psychotherapy and
medication. Many professionals recommend a synthesis of both therapy and medication, and supplementing these methods with alternative treatments like meditation,
mindfulness training, or yoga may facilitate recovery.
Consult your doctor if you believe you have any of the symptoms related to this disorder and discuss the benefits and risks of any medication or therapy.
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