Generalized Anxiety Disorder

What is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by multiple and non-specific worries. The person gets anxious or worried about anything and everything.

What are the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder?

The symptoms of anxiety could range from being mild to severe. The person might face difficulties in making any decision, would not be able to concentrate or be attentive; might have sleep related problems; feel restless or keyed up; easily fatigued.

How long do the symptoms need to persist for it to be labeled as GAD?

The symptoms need to persist for atleast 6 months for the patient to be labeled as having GAD.

For how long can the symptoms of GAD last?

There is no particular time criteria. It can last for 6 months or may be if chronic, for 20 years. However, it is advised to seek treatment for the symptoms to not aggravate and become chronic.

Are other mental health diagnoses associated with generalized anxiety disorder?

When people are diagnosed with GAD, they commonly have or had other anxiety and depressive disorders. Symptoms of GAD are very common in other disorders, including PTSD, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia).

What are causes and risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder?

While there is no single cause of GAD, some people are more at risk for developing anxiety than others.

Is one gender at a higher risk of having anxiety?

Women tend to develop this condition and most other anxiety disorders more often than men as there are a lot of hormonal imbalances that a woman goes through during their menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause.

Does family history or hereditary cause anxiety?

Individuals with a family history of anxiety and depression are more at risk for having GAD.

What specialists deal with GAD?

A Psychiatrist and a Psychologist is eligible to diagnose anxiety and help the patient deal with the process.

When should the patient be taken to the hospital and how often should he follow up?

If the symptoms are very chronic and beyond control, it is recommended that the patient is hospitalized so that the symptoms can be stabilized. Initially, the patient should  have a follow up once a week and when the symptoms reduce, the follow up can be done once in every 15 days.

What are the medications for GAD?

There are a variety of treatments available for controlling anxiety, including several effective anti-anxiety medications. In terms of medications, buspirone  is known to be quite effective for treating GAD. SRI medications also prove to be very effective. These include fluoxetine,sertraline paroxetine , citalopram , and escitalopram .

What are the side effects of anxiety medications?

The common side effects would be feeling sleepy all the day, feeling light-headed and dizzy. Some people also tend to gain some weight.

How long does it take for medicines to take effect?

This depends on the individual differences and the situations they are in. However, as per the research, the effects can be felt after 15 days to 1 month of the consumption.

Can I consume Alcohol while being treated for anxiety?

It is advised to not consume any alcohol or any substance that may add to the drowsiness caused by anti-anxiety medicines. People are generally advised to refrain from activity in which lack of attention may be dangerous to life.

What are the Psychotherapy treatments for anxiety?

Research shows that the combination of medication and psychotherapy treatment are more effective than medication alone in overcoming anxiety for both adults and children.The most common type of therapy used to treat anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy seeks to help those with an anxiety disorder identify and decrease the irrational thoughts and reinforce positive behaviors.

Behavioral techniques that are often used to decrease anxiety include relaxation techniques and gradually increasing exposure to situations that may have previously precipitated anxiety in them.

Is it possible to prevent anxiety?

There are a lot of factors that contribute  to anxiety and cannot be completely prevented. The environment in which you live, the parental pressure, your relationships with your peers, partner and relatives, all contribute. Everything isn’t under our control and hence it creates a greater chance for the person to have anxiety.

What is the prognosis/outcome of generalized anxiety disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder can be quite chronic, in that the average length of time the illness lasts is 20 years if untreated. It can significantly interfere with the lives of individuals who have it and usually requires treatment for it to resolve. Therefore, people with generalized anxiety disorder are usually thought to need treatment for at least a year to prevent its recurrence.

Where can people find help to support themselves or people they know to cope up with the disorder?

It is very important to address the problem. People can find help by visiting a psychiatrist or a psychologist who can make them aware of their problems and help them cope.

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