• What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Who Does It Impact?

    Everyone has moments of fear, worry, dread, or panic. For someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), these feelings can be persistent and excessive. In healthy scenarios, anxiety can be productive and at times, help us survive. GAD is neither healthy nor productive. The source of the worrying may be real or perceived but, with GAD, it negatively impacts your daily life either way.

    GAD is diagnosed when you can not control your worrying more often than not for at least six consecutive months. Also, you would have to display three (or more) of the symptoms listed below over that time period. Let’s take a closer look at some related issues.

    Common Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    • Free-floating, excessive, and pervasive worry
    • Difficulty controlling this worrying
    • Irritability and restlessness
    • Loss of focus and concentration
    • Physical signs like fatigue, digestive problems, sleep disturbances, sweating, trembling, unexplained muscle pain, and tension
    • Panic attacks

    Of course, symptoms may vary from person to person.

    Who Does GAD Impact?

    A few facts and figures to get started:

    • Roughly 40 million Americans are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder each year (only about 40 percent of them are receiving treatment)
    • Eight percent of those between the ages of 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder
    • Women have a two times higher risk of having anxiety
    • Anxiety disorders can occur at any age and often arises gradually

    Indications are that life in the digital age is increasing instances of anxiety disorders across the board. Online life, non-stop notifications, fake news, and the “fear of missing out” are not positive trends when it comes to decreasing anxiety.

    Possible Causes and Risk Factors for GAD

    External Factors

    Everyone faces stressful and potentially traumatic events in their life. Everyone reacts to these events differently. In some cases, they can create a sustained state of high anxiety. In such a state, the fear of future events escalates. This can set in motion a cycle of anxiety that keeps a person in perpetual fight-or-flight mode.

    Genetics

    Research is ongoing. Some of it suggests that your family history can play a role in your anxiety levels. As recently as 2017, a review of studies found that GAD can be inherited. It’s not that an “anxiety gene” is inherited. Rather, certain environmental and lifestyle tendencies can be passed on from generation to generation. So, if you are aware of family history, it pays to be diligent. You could be more susceptible than others.

    Brain Chemistry

    This possible cause is also still very much in the research phase. A few related concepts to consider:

    • People with GAD often show an imbalance of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Thus, this kind of imbalance is being studied for its role in affecting a person’s well-being and emotional stability.
    • There are nerve cell connections in your brain that relate to emotions and thoughts. If the signaling between these connections is negatively impacted by neurotransmitter activity, higher anxiety and mood swings seem to be likely.
    • Talk therapy is believed to help neurotransmitters work effectively between neural circuits. Therefore, it can help reduce both anxiety and depression

    You Don’t Have to Live in an Over-Stressed State

    Just because anxiety is very common and possibly passed down, it doesn’t mean you have to simply accept it. There are powerful treatment options — both professional interventions and self-help steps. Your first step is to reach out to a skilled therapist to help guide you through the healing process.

    If you feel anxiety is holding you back in life, now is the time to reach out. Let’s connect for a free and confidential consultation. You can thrive again so, let’s make that happen with anxiety therapy.