What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Know Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Updated at: Sep 10, 2020
What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Know Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Generalized anxiety disorder is a psychological condition where a person suffers from both physical and mental discomfort.

Chanchal Sengar
Other DiseasesWritten by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Sep 10, 2020

There is a huge difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder. While anxiety is generally experienced at different times, anxiety disorder is a psychological illness. It is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD), panic disorder and other anxiety disorders, the difference lies in the characteristics and treatment. Though it is a psychological condition, the person may experience physical issues while dealing with a generalized anxiety disorder. To know more about this condition, we connected with Dr. Deepali Batra, Senior Consultant, Clinical Psychologist, Max Hospital Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi. Everything explained by her is mentioned in this article.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a common mental disorder, where persistent and excessive anxiety and worry is present, which is significantly associated with day-today situations, explains Dr. Batra. The person finds anxiety and worries, difficult to control. It disrupts day to day socio-occupational functioning of an individual and has a significant impact on an individual's quality of life. Anxiety disorders are different from panic disorders

What are the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

The anxiety is mostly associated with physical symptoms like restlessness, being easily fatigued, sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating, palpitations, sweating and muscle tension. Many people suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder also experience other physical symptoms like headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms. The disorder is more common in females and another important factor associated is the presence of life stressors.

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It is difficult to diagnose GAD, as the person presents with physical symptoms. The first step is to rule out the presence of any physical disease, that may be causing physical symptoms.

Common Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD can only be prevented if you know its triggers or risk factors. Many people do not know what can cause risk to their health. Here are major risk factors or causes of this anxiety disorder:

  • Childhood abuse: A person who suffered abuse during childhood is highly likely to grow up with this disorder.
  • Hereditary: If someone in your family has a history of anxiety disorder, you may be at risk of developing it.
  • Tobacco or caffeine addiction: This is what makes most people who consume an excess of caffeine and tobacco can gradually develop anxiety disorders. Not just that, the consumption of tobacco and caffeine worsens their anxiety.
  • Stress: If you are undergoing any stressful situation or have undergone something in the past, either personal or professional, you may develop GAD.

How Can Generalized Anxiety Disorder Be Treated?

Treatment of GAD includes both Psychotherapy and Psycho-pharmacological treatment. The goal of the treatment is to Psycho-educate the patient and family regarding the disorder and to help them understand the multiple factors that may be leading to the disorder. As the individual suffering from GAD has to cope with various physical & psychological symptoms every day, so the therapy focuses on helping the client to improve coping mechanisms to different life stressors. In most cases of GAD, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is recommended which is carried by an experienced Clinical Psychologist. The effective techniques used include identifying cognitive errors and practicing cognitive reframing, relaxation exercises, improving problem-solving and coping skills and making lifestyle changes.

With regular and persistent treatment significant improvement can be seen in patients diagnosed with GAD. 

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