Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves persistent and excessive anxiety or worry about several events or activities occurring in one’s life, most days for at least six months. Such events can include being late for work, worrying about health, or even worry about worrying. People with GAD find it difficult to control their worry. In turn, excessive fear and anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of one’s life, such as social interactions, school, and work.

 

Signs and symptoms of GAD

  • Persistent and excessive worry and anxiety about several events or activities (tests or deadlines) 
  • Physical symptoms like (3 for adults, 1 for children) 
    • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
    • Being easily fatigued
    • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
    • Being irritable
    • Having muscle tension
    • Sleeping difficulties 
  • Anxiety is distressing and causing dysfunction in life 

 

Compared to Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), GAD is having intense fear and anxiety towards a range of events and activities, which may also include social events, but are not the main worries the individual is concerned about. 

 

Causes of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Genetic 
    • Family history of GAD increases the likelihood 
    • Twice more likely for females 
  • Environment 
    • Exposure to abuse/bullying
    • Exposure to stressful event(s)
    • Past traumatic events
  • Biological 
    • Differences in brain structure and connections 
    • Higher sensitivity to threat 

 

Treatment with Psychotherapy 

Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” helps you learn how your emotions affect your behaviours. A therapist listens and talks to you about your thoughts and feelings and suggests ways to understand and manage them and your anxiety disorder.

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a common type of psychotherapy that teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful objects and situations. 

 

CBT can help individuals increase tolerance to uncertainty and anxiety, and practice doing things they fear without reassurance or habits they did previously to reduce the anxiety. For example, a teenager is worried about his school work and fears failing school. The therapist might have him complete his homework and having checked through only once and avoid asking for reassurance for a period of time. Over time, he will learn that the outcome of not checking so many times is not as bad as what he imagined would happen, hence, shifting his mindset to something more positive. 

 

Medications

  • Anti-anxiety medications (e.g. lorazepam (Ativan))
  • Anti-depressants for anxiety (e.g. sertraline (Zoloft)) 

 

It is important to note that medications will not cure anxiety disorders and can only provide relief from symptoms. There may also be side effects from these medications or increased dependence on these medications to cope with the anxiety which can be very risky. 

 

Click here to find out more about Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) (add link to SAD)

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