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Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by ongoing and excessive worry about different concerns. 

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, estimates that 40 million adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. 30% of those individuals experience GAD. That amounts to 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the country’s total population.

Let’s learn about symptoms, causes, and effective treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder that can help you heal by taking proper care and treatments.

What is GAD and How Common it is?

The characteristic of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is excessive and ongoing worry about a wide range of different situations. 

People with GAD may see catastrophes approaching and worry excessively about their finances, health, relationships, jobs, or other matters. GAD sufferers have a hard time managing their worries. 

When it comes to actual events, they might worry more than would seem reasonable or they might assume the worst even when there is no evident cause for anxiety.

GAD is diagnosed when a person exhibits three or more symptoms and finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months. This distinguishes GAD from worry that may be particular to a particular stressor event for a shorter duration.

It’s common to experience occasional anxiety, especially if your life is demanding. But uncontrollable, excessive concern and anxiety that interfere with daily activities could be a symptom of GAD.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder - Symptoms

Both children and adults can experience Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Although panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other forms of anxiety have some symptoms with generalized anxiety disorder, they are all distinct medical diseases.

It can be difficult to manage GAD in the long run. It frequently co-occurs with other mood or anxiety disorders

With psychotherapy or medications, Generalised Anxiety Disorder often gets better. Altering one’s lifestyle, developing coping mechanisms, and adopting relaxation techniques can all be beneficial.

Let’s have a look at the symptoms and causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in kids, teens, and adults.

Symptoms of GAD in Kids and Teens

Children with GAD are more likely to have parents who suffer from an anxiety disorder. Toddlers who appeared more constrained may have a higher risk of developing GAD. 

Children and teens frequently are unaware that their anxiety is higher than what is necessary, unlike adults with GAD. 

With GAD, young people frequently require a lot of assurance from the adults in their lives.

Symptoms in Children

  • Excessive worry about things before they occur.
  • Trust issues with friends and unnecessary worry about routine school activities.
  • High Attention seeking overprotective nature.
  • Regular refusal to attend school.
  • Recurring headaches, stomachaches, or other bodily discomforts.
  • Continuous muscle tension or pains.
  • Issues sleeping easily.
  • Concerns about staying away from home.
  • Clinginess around family members
  • Wobbling while talking and feeling like lumping in one’s throat.
  • Extreme weariness or feeling of fatigue.
  • Often staying non-attentive.
  • Easily becoming startled by situations.
  • Being cranky or aggravated

Symptoms in Teens

  • Often socially withdraws. This includes losing or reducing connection with pals.
  • Frequent mood changes, melancholy, sobbing, irrational anger, irritation, or stillness.
  • Start making self-deprecating remarks about themselves.
  • Having trouble taking compliments or criticism.
  • He/she develops an excessive amount of worry or sensitivity about what other people think of him.
  • They are often easily persuaded. It appears through the influence of unfavorable peers, the adoption of attitudes and behaviors such as a disregard for school, skipping class, acting disrespectfully, shoplifting, or dabbling with drugs, alcohol, or nicotine use.
  • Tries to remain alone at all times.
  • Often experience unnecessary sadness or rage.
  • Not motivated to pursue activities that he formerly loved.
  • Disregard for one’s well-being or possessions.
  • Indulge in earlier sexual behavior, such as pornographic entertainment or even sexual connection.
  • Consuming alcoholic drinks, smoking, or doing drugs.

Causes of GAD in Kids and Teens

Children are very susceptible to comparison effects. They frequently face comparisons with others in academics, athletics, or even minor issues by their parents and teachers. They feel the most of this.

Children felt unworthy. They may even believe that it is useless because their parents or professors won’t like it or value it in the first place.

Parents typically have higher expectations for their children’s success in school, athletics, and manners as they get older. They frequently feel pressured to perform as a result, which makes them feel excluded.

Some parents create a harsh environment at home. They are stranded as a result. Everything must be carried out in a specific manner. When things aren’t done their way often shout at children and force them to do as they say. 

They give up utilizing their minds for it since they are aware that they must follow such practices.

In the name of love, many parents overprotect their children. They believe they are helping, but all it does is make them more reliant on you.

They are instructed to refrain from doing this and that. These youngsters grow up believing that they need help or guidance.

A child can get their parent’s tendency of extreme worry, just like they can get their parent’s brown hair, green eyes, and nearsightedness. According to recent studies, genetics could be responsible for one-third of the chance of developing GAD.

Symptoms of GAD in Adults

From person to person, the severity of the symptoms varies. While some people only experience a few symptoms, others experience many more.

  • Avoid taking advantage of fresh opportunities or acting on them.
  • Feel unwanted and unloved.
  • Make excuses for your errors.
  • Become easily frustrated and give up.
  • Consider yourself incapable.
  • You tend to judge yourself mostly by others.
  • Fear of failure-related shame.
  • Find it challenging to make friends.
  • Always in need of encouragement.
  • Always be self-defeating and take criticism badly.
  • Even when they are not spoken by others, assume negative opinions of oneself.
  • Fear of losing people.
  • Fear of seeking help.
  • Do things to please others and deprioritize one’s self.

Causes of GAD in Adults

Adults who are surrounded by pessimistic people at work, at home, or in society tend to think negatively. They start to have trust concerns. 

These harmful groups frequently humiliate them by showing them disdain, making them perform uncomfortable things, and making fun of their emotions and thoughts. 

Over time, this undermines their self-assurance and fosters GAD.

You develop an unspoken worry as you age and have obligations to meet. Even though the circumstances are difficult, you don’t risk taking or changing jobs. 

Self-guilt is profound. An adult’s life is severely hampered once they sink into this deep pit. They have uncomfortable feelings as a result of past guilt for harmful behavior. Due to this, they begin to dislike themselves and feel unworthy.

Risks of Non-Treatment

Risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder can be incapacitating. Because you have problems focusing, it can affect your capacity to do things swiftly and effectively. 

Both mental and physical energy are frequently depleted. Additionally, gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome or ulcers can result from or be made worse by Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

It may result in cardiac difficulties, migraines, chronic pain, lowered immunity, sleep disorders, and headaches and migraines.

Phobias, PTSD, OCD, and sadness are a few mental health conditions that frequently coexist with GAD. It may also result in drug misuse and suicidal thoughts or actual suicide.

How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed?

Your doctor or mental health expert could do a physical examination and check for symptoms to help identify generalized anxiety disorder. 

Whether your anxiety is brought on by prescription medication or an underlying medical ailment can be disproved with this physical diagnosis. If the doctors detect a medical condition, they may also order blood, urine, or other testing.

Doctors frequently enquire in-depth about your symptoms and medical background. A lot of them also employ psychological tests to aid in diagnosis.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association is used by the majority of medical professionals.

Also Read: How to Help Someone with Anxiety?

How To Self-Assess Your Anxiety Levels?

You can perform a self-assessment about generalized anxiety disorder using the GAD-7 scoring test. It helps you to know what level of GAD you have.

Let us understand GAD-7 in brief.

GAD-7 Self-Assessment Test

The Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 item (GAD-7) was created to identify generalized anxiety disorders, and 2740 patients in primary care have validated it. It has an 89% sensitivity and an 82% specificity. 

Robert L. Spitzer, MD, and colleagues created the GAD-7.

Panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder are three other prevalent anxiety disorders that it is reasonably effective at detecting.

If you want to check your Anxiety levels, click on the link below to take the Generalized Anxiety Assessment Test.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Screening with 7-question quiz (GAD-7)

Start Self-Assessment Test

How To Help Someone With GAD?

Be there for them and provide your support if you have any pals that struggle with anxiety.

  • Observe How They Feel:

It’s critical to observe the individual, pay attention to their issue, and validate their emotions. 

You will give them comfort. Give them as little advice as possible because over-advising might make their problems worse. 

Inform them of the situation’s true nature and how to manage the issue. They won’t have repeated panic episodes as a result.

  • Encourage Them To Take The Best Care

In many cases, altering your priorities, diet, mindfulness exercise regimen, and other livable areas of your life under your control will help reduce symptoms to a bearable level.

  • Don’t place the blame

When treating someone, we do not want to do any action that will exacerbate or increase the frequency of their anxiety symptoms. It’s crucial to know what to refrain from doing to quiet the crowd down.

Avoid comparing your anxiousness to that of others. Avoid stating, “I understand what you’re saying, and I’m aware of how long it takes to recover from an anxiety episode,” because it might cause further problems.

What you say and don’t say to such people with GAD matters a lot. Help them find the root cause rather. They will be able to efficiently handle the symptoms of anxiety.

  • Set Boundaries

Set some boundaries on your advice when you’re attempting to help someone. If you are not a professional mental health counselor, don’t behave like one.

You might advise them on certain techniques that reduce their anxiety symptoms without pressuring them.

  • Hotline Numbers

Sometimes things get out of control and people with GAD try to harm themselves or others. In such scenarios, it is your social as well as moral responsibility to report it to the local Hotline Numbers of your city.

The below image consists of some of the numbers across the globe that might be helpful. 

local Hotline Numbers for Anxiety

» NAMI Helpline – Trained volunteers can provide information, referrals, and support for those suffering from anxiety disorders in the U.S. Call 1-800-950-6264. (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

» National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 988 or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) for the US.

» Anxiety UK – Information, support, and a dedicated helpline for UK sufferers and their families. Call: 03444 775 774.

» Anxiety Canada – Provides links to services in different Canadian provinces. (Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada)

» SANE Help Centre – Provides information about symptoms, treatments, medications, and where to go for support in Australia. Call: 1800 18 7263. (SANE Australia).

» Helpline (India) – Provides information and support to those with mental health concerns in India. Call: 1860 2662 345 or 1800 2333 330.

How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) treated?

Depending on the severity of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, treatment options can be suggested. Usually, GAD is treated in two ways. The first is medicine and the second is psychotherapy. 

Your doctor could recommend that you see a psychiatrist or psychologist if no other medical issues are discovered. 

These individuals are educated to identify and treat illnesses like GAD. They are mental health experts. Combining medication and cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common form of treatment for GAD. 

In addition, your everyday routine might have an impact.

Teatment Options For Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Psychotherapy

This sort of therapy is frequently used to treat anxiety problems and teaches you how to identify and alter thinking patterns and behaviors that cause you to feel anxious. 

By providing a realistic view of the problem, this kind of treatment aids in limiting skewed thinking. 

CBT entails having frequent consultations with a mental health expert. You acquire skills for identifying and controlling your anxious thoughts in treatment sessions. 

When troubling ideas come to mind, your therapist shows you how to relax. Medication and treatment are often prescribed by doctors.

  • Medications

If your doctor prescribes medicine, they’ll probably make both a short- and long-term medication plan. 

Some of the physical signs of anxiety, including muscular tightness and stomach cramps, can be reduced by using short-term medicines. These are referred to as anti-anxiety drugs.

Anti-anxiety medications have a significant potential for dependency and misuse, thus they should not be used for extended periods. Antidepressant medications can be effective for long-term therapy. 

Both antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may be recommended by your doctor. If so, you’ll likely only need to take the anti-anxiety drug occasionally or for a few weeks until your antidepressant begins to work.

  • Self-help Smart Applications for GAD Treatment

People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder tend to stay away from the limelight and speaking up or going for consultation directly makes isn’t easy for them. 

For such patients, there are a few self-help smart applications. These applications can run on your smartphone, tab, PC, or laptop and are a discreet form of initial help for such patients.

Here are a few Applications that provide therapies and counseling for Generalized Anxiety Disorders. 

We have chosen these apps based on their effectiveness and reviews done by the users.

  • Wellheal

The WellHeal App is designed after combining two effective methods of psychotherapy: CBT and Music Therapy. A proven solution to physically, mentally, and psychologically stabilize your life. An App focused on Your Healing, Wellness & Mindfulness. 

#1 Therapeutic Experience to help individuals address Physical, Emotional, Cognitive, and Social needs. An effort to transcend the compulsive cycles of life and define an ultimate process to attain mental freedom and liberation.

Uncover your True Potential and Enhance your Productivity. Find and Fix the Unresolved Emotions that hinder your Health.

  • CareClinic App

CareClinic

CareClinic is a health tracker app with scientific research that makes maintaining your health and well-being simple. Keep track of your progress using Trackers and learn insights and connections to share with your physician. 

It incorporates all essential features, including a medication tracker and other health reminders, as a self-care wellness app and symptom tracker. 

Set reminders for taking your medications and medicines, keeping track of your symptoms’ intensity, taking measurements, exercising, and eating well. Add your care team so they may keep tabs on your development or the welfare of your loved ones remotely.

Download Links:

Google Play Store Button  App Store Button

  • MindShift CBT

MindShift CBT

The MindShift CBT app was designed to treat anxiety by utilizing CBT strategies to change one’s thoughts and behavior. The app promises to aid in the treatment of anxiety, panic, perfectionism, social anxiety, and phobias.

Among the features are short meditations, thinking journals, coping cards, and exercises to face anxieties, shift beliefs, and establish healthy habits.

Download Links:

Google Play Store Button  App Store Button

  • Talkspace

Talkspace

The most expensive choice on this list is Talkspace, but it provides direct access to a mental health specialist. This online treatment option is likely cheaper than seeing a therapist in person, and you have access to assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can message your therapist in the Talkspace chat area at any time. You can also plan live video sessions with your therapist.

Download Links:

Google Play Store Button  App Store Button

Final Words

GAD patients worry more frequently and intensely. They could dwell on a single worry for a protracted period, and occasionally they struggle to pinpoint the cause of the anxiety. 

Symptoms might get worse due to stress, physical disease, and life changes. Medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications are among the forms of treatment. 

Anyone who thinks they may have GAD should consult a doctor. Early GAD treatment may aid in avoiding consequences like depression and social isolation.

Although many GAD risk factors may be changed and managed, not all of them are within your power. There are practical coping mechanisms for handling stress and trauma. Step up and ask for help if you believe you are in danger or believe you have GAD.

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