Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least six months. Mood and physical symptoms associated with GAD include:
- 1. Mood Symptoms - worry, anxiety, hopelessness
- 2. Physical Symptoms - muscle tension, nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, cold and clammy hands, difficulty swallowing, jumpiness, and difficulty sleeping
The Facts -
- An estimated 19 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.
- Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.
- Anxiety disorders may develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
- Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. $42 billion a year.
- About 2.8% of the adult U.S. population ages 18 to 54 - approximately 4 million Americans - has GAD during the course of a given year.
- GAD affects women more often than men.
- Compared to most anxiety disorders, the onset of GAD usually occurs at a younger age and the symptoms are slower to emerge.
- Studies show that 80 to 90 percent of those who suffer from bipolar disorder have relatives with some form of depression.
- Other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse often accompany GAD, which rarely occurs alone.
Screening for anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses is important because it allows health care providers to identify these illnesses early on, making treatment more effective.
Researchers have identified a strong association between generalized anxiety disorder and cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure, or even death. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2010; 67(7):750-758)
According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective for many people and helps them identify, understand, and modify faulty thinking and behavior patterns. Medication and relaxation techniques like yoga, exercise, and meditation are also used in treatment.
Other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse often accompany GAD, which rarely occurs alone. Not all depressed people have thoughts of suicide. But all people who are suicidal are usually depressed, which is why treatment is essential. If someone has suicidal thoughts and/or plans for killing themselves, regardless of whether they’re experiencing any of the other symptoms of depression, they should seek immediate help by going to an emergency room, or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).