eneralized anxiety disorder, also known as GAD, is a serious mental health condition that afflicts millions of Americans. It can be a serious impediment to maintaining a normal and healthy life, making it difficult to socialize, work or even go out in public. Fortunately, Generalized Anxiety Disorder is highly treatable. With the right therapy, most people who seek help for this potentially crippling disorder can make a meaningful recovery, once again enjoying their life to the fullest.
Like all mental health conditions, GAD is largely a matter of degree. We all experience symptoms of anxiety from time to time. And under certain conditions, particularly when facing genuine threats or stress-inducing events, not experiencing some degree of anxiety would be the abnormal response.
But when anxiety symptoms reach the point that they are interfering with someone’s ability to carry out their normal activities, it is prudent to investigate whether generalized anxiety disorder is taking shape. Some symptoms that a sufferer of generalized anxiety disorder may notice include:
• Worrying throughout most days about things to a degree that is incommensurate with their likely impact. An example might be experiencing severe anxiety for days about what to wear to an upcoming meeting or experiencing hours of anxiety regarding how a routine email might be perceived.
• Constantly worrying about worst-case scenarios and experiencing almost no control over your ability to shut off what-if type thoughts that involve disastrous outcomes.
• Difficulty putting threat levels into perspective. Everyone experiences apprehension about some people, places or activities. But most people do not experience crippling fear every time they get behind the wheel of a car or are in an unfamiliar setting.
• Trouble making up one’s mind.
• Fear of making the wrong choice or being wrong about something.
• Inability to take your mind off sources of stress. This includes a general inability to relax and constantly feeling like you are in flight-or-fight mode.
• Trouble concentrating and impaired attention span.
Unlike many other mental health conditions, anxiety is also capable of producing physical signs, many of which can be objectively verified by a physician. These include:
• Severe fatigue or lethargy.
• Difficulty falling or staying asleep.
• Increased heart rate as well as an increased rate of respiration.
• Muscle fasciculation, spasms or widespread tremor.
• Having a hair-trigger temper.
• Profuse sweating.
• Nausea and an increased propensity for developing irritable bowel syndrome.
While most people may experience some or all of these symptoms at one time or another, those who are suffering from a bona fide anxiety disorder will have chronic recurrences of these signs and symptoms that interfere with normal functioning.
What is an Anxiety Attack?
Those who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder often experience what are known as anxiety attacks. This often takes the form of sudden, overwhelming panic or a feeling of impending doom. Anxiety attacks can be triggered by a single stimulus or by a combination of circumstances, such as having consumed a large quantity of caffeine or recovering from a night of heavy drinking.
Anxiety attacks do not normally lead to serious medical outcomes. However, they can be intensely unpleasant experiences. Those who are experiencing an anxiety attack often report symptoms that are similar to serious medical emergencies, such as chest pain, difficulty breathing or hyperventilation and a feeling as if the world is closing in around them. Severe anxiety attacks can sometimes prompt sufferers to seek emergency medical treatment because they are convinced that they are having a heart attack, stroke or other potentially fatal medical emergency.
Comorbidity with Depression
Those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder are frequently also diagnosed as having clinical depression. Because both of these conditions are usually related to similar chemical imbalances in the brain, successfully treating one often goes a long way towards clearing up the symptoms of the other.
The good news is that both depressive disorders and generalized anxiety disorder are highly treatable. While every case is different, a well-tailored psychotherapy session, which is also known as talk therapy or counseling, is usually successful in making serious inroads towards resolving the condition.
How to Treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The first line of treatment for anxiety is counseling. This non-medical intervention is surprisingly effective when carried out by highly trained practitioners. Our expert counselors have decades of experience in helping people to overcome their anxiety.
One of the most important aspects of anxiety treatment is what is called a dual diagnosis. When diagnosing the underlying etiology of the patient’s mental condition, it is imperative to rule out any preexisting causes, such as depressive disorders or substance abuse, that may be leading to the disorder. When it is found that there are identifiable comorbid conditions that are likely to be causing the anxiety issues, treating those conditions will almost always resolve the patient’s anxiety.
However, there are many cases where generalized anxiety turns out to be the primary disorder. In these instances, psychotherapeutic counseling is almost always effective at treating the condition.
Full recovery is possible With GAD Therapy
If you are suffering from anxiety, you should know that there are proven treatments that can help you to recover. Our staff can help you get your anxiety under control so that you can get back to fully enjoying each wonderful day of life.
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Ron N. Gad, PhDFounder
Ron N. Gad, PhD is the founder of Beverly Hills Therapy Group in California. Dr. Gad holds a PhD in clinical psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Along with his staff of licensed therapist, Beverly Hills Therapy Group provides mental health services for many disorders including anxiety, trauma, depression, and several others.