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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder



Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is defined as a mental and behavioral disorder. It is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive and irrational worry about events or activities that is uncontrollable in nature. Worry affects the daily functioning of individuals suffering from GAD. Usually, GAD patients are overly concerned about everyday matters such as death, finances, family, health, relationship concerns, or difficulties of work environment. A person suffering from GAD may feel extreme worry and tension for no reason.

Causes Of GAD

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is believed to be genetic disorder or hereditary disorder. It is widely believed that if an individual has GAD, then first-degree relatives of that individual are likely to have GAD as well. However, this is not that always happens.

According to the genetic studies of individuals suffering from different anxiety disorders (including GAD), approximately 30% to 40% of GAD patients suffer from GAD due to hereditary causes. Hence, it can be concluded that there are environmental factors that determine whether an individual suffers from GAD.

Symptoms of GAD

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder may include excessive worry, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, fear of losing control, fear of dying, exhaustion, irritability, muscle tension, restlessness, concentration-related problems along with short-attention span, sweating, trembling, and trouble sleeping. For a formal diagnosis of GAD, symptoms have to be consistent and ongoing. They should be persisting at least six months. Children can be diagnosed for GAD if they are experiencing even one symptom.

Sometimes, people suffering from GAD have other anxiety-related disorders including other psychiatric disorders (such as major depressive disorder), disorder caused by substance use, and obesity. Often there can be GAD patients who may have a history of trauma or a family member suffering from GAD.

It is common for clinicians to use screening tools such as the GAD-2 questionnaire or GAD-7 questionnaire to determine if the individual seeking their service may have GAD. The response of respondent to questionnaire helps clinicians to determine whether the condition of respondent warrants formal evaluation for GAD. There are other screening tools that help clinicians to evaluate the severity of GAD symptoms.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder includes different types of psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or metacognitive therapy. Sometimes, treatment also requires pharmacological intervention such as citalopram, duloxetine, escitalopram, sertraline, and venlafaxine. Regarding psychological and pharmacological treatments, CBT and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the first line of treatment. Variations of psychotherapy useful for GAD treatment include Short-term Anxiety-Provoking Psychotherapy (STAPP).

Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) is one of the most prominent treatment option among other options for GAD treatment. In many European countries, pregabalin is also used for GAD treatment.

Psychotherapeutic treatment and pharmacological intervention are used for providing treatment for GAD. These are two conventional therapeutic approaches for treatment that are often combined with some other treatment methods such as brain stimulation, complementary and alternative medications (CAMs), exercise, therapeutic massage and more.

In psychodynamic therapy, a psychologist enables a patient to explore various elements in his/her subconscious mind and make efforts to resolve conflicts that may exist between the conscious elements and subconscious elements of the mind. In the context of GAD, psychologist applies the psychodynamic theory of anxiety where the unconscious mind puts up defense mechanism against worry so that the person (owner of mind) can avoid bitter feelings of anger or hostility because such feelings might make the GAD patient to feel social isolation or any other attribution to any other negative feeling toward himself/herself.

Based on therapeutic intervention, behavioral therapy is a concept that theorizes anxiety to be something that can be learned through classical conditioning where one or more negative experiences might be explored. This therapy can be maintained through operant conditioning where it is believed that one can avoid anxiety by avoiding something fearsome.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is defined as a behavioral treatment that is based on acceptance-based models. Its purpose is to reduce the use of avoiding strategies, reduce the patient’s lateral response to highlights, and to help him/her to increase his/her ability to the commitments that are meant to change his/her behavior. This therapy also aims to reduce the feeling of hopelessness in individual.

Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) is defined as a consistent negative reaction to ambiguous and uncertain events regardless of whether those events can actually happen or not. Intolerance of uncertainty therapy (IUT) is used for the treatment of GAD patients.

Metacognitive therapy (MCT) aims to alter thinking patterns regarding worry so that GAD patient would not use worry as a coping strategy. Apart from GAD, MCT is useful for the treatment of many other mental disorders.

Motivational interviewing is a therapy that works in four stages. The first stage is about expressing empathy. The second stage is about increasing dissonance between undesirable behaviors and inconsistent values. Third stage is about resisting or confronting the problem. Fourth stage is about encouraging self-efficacy.

Finding GAD Treatment experts on HelloDr

On HelloDr website, you can find psychologists and psychiatrists to discuss the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Based on symptoms, an expert can prescribe counselling or medication that you need. Click here to see the list of GAD treatment specialists. The list of GAD treatment specialists is visible only registered users.