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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), is a disorder that consists of constant worrying and the inability to relax. GAD was first discovered in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association and the disorder is known to last a month or longer. There are more than 3 million cases per year, yet only 43.2% get the proper treatment for it. Women are more likely to be affected by GAD than men are. GAD is treatable and often requires a medical diagnosis to begin treatment. There are medications, home-remedies, and therapies available for those who are affected by GAD. While it is totally normal to experience anxiety, it is important to look for signs of persistent and/or a prolonged feeling of anxiety that lasts for more than six months because that can be a sign of a person having GAD.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a disorder of which anyone of any age can suffer from. Although GAD requires a medical diagnosis, it is easy to recognize the signs and symptoms beforehand so that it will not progress well enough to the point where it is too late to seek help. The elasticity of GAD can last anywhere from a few months, years, or can even be lifelong. GAD can occur at any time but, mainly during those times of which the person is feeling stressed. The symptoms of GAD in adults and elderly’s include excessive worrying, irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, chronic fatigue, edginess, lightheadedness, headache, and nausea. Symptoms of GAD in children and teenagers are that they feel pressured to try and fit in with others, lack of confidence, avoidance of social situations like going to school, and fear of a catastrophic event since they’re constantly learning about different topics at school. It is normal to become anxious, for example let’s say that you are a student in middle school and the teacher tells the class that there is going to be a pop quiz on one of the days that week, you will began to feel anxious as to which day the pop quiz will be on or even the material it will cover. This is considered normal anxiety because testing anxiety is very common and isn’t something that needs medical attention. Whereas a person who finds themselves to be anxious every day to the point where it is affecting their daily lives, that is a sign that they need to seek medical attention. If the anxiety is ongoing and persistent then that is the major giveaway that a person may be suffering from GAD. GAD does have similar symptoms to other types of anxiety, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Panic disorder, but they’re all different in many ways. Those who suffer from anxiety often feel the sense that they’re in danger or that something bad is always going to happen. They constantly live on edge and are constantly worried even when they shouldn’t be.
Biological factor plays a huge role as to why a child, teenager, or adult may develop GAD. The limbic system regulates lots of our emotional reactions toward certain situations. The amygdala is a marbled sized region that is a part of the limbic system which alerts us and lets us know that we are in danger, however for those who suffer from GAD, their amygdala is constantly letting them know that they are in danger because the person is constantly in the “fight or flight” mode so their brain is telling them that something bad will happen. GAD alters the way the brain functions and the whole body as well. GAD is genetic and can be passed down through generations the same way a child can inherit their eye color, hair color, and height from their ancestors. Women are prone to GAD, especially perinatal women. Perinatal GAD has a high prevalence of 8.5%-10.5% during pregnancy and 4.4%-10.8% postpartum. A perinatal woman’s hormones are already all over the place because she could be worrying about her infant, delivery day, or she could even be going through issues at work. Therefore, it is very common for women to suffer from GAD more than men do. GAD can also be caused by environmental factors such as being mistreated as a child, death, divorce, and money issues. Those types of situations can trigger GAD symptoms and cause excess worrying. If it is seen to be persistent even after the situation gets better, then it will be necessary for the person to go see a specialist who can help them figure out if a diagnosis is needed or not for GAD. An imbalance of hormones or hormone damage can also affect why the person has GAD. Anxiety can also be a learned behavior because a teenager can mirror the way that their parent copes with stressful situations and mimic those actions. If the parent copes with stressful situation by drinking alcohol, then the teenager will more than likely do the same or if the parent copes by constantly stressing and worrying, then the teenager will do the same.
Those who suffer from GAD may find it difficult to stay focus while at school or work and this is often because the brain is so busy worrying about other situations outside of school or work and the amygdala is constantly initiating this response. From a psychological standpoint our memory can be affected during times where we are under tons of stress and anxiety. The person will start to forget about that exam or forget about that interview they missed a few days ago. When GAD gets in the way of your memory, you will find that you have trouble multitasking and trying to juggle all the things you must do at home, work, or school. Although a child who suffers from GAD may not necessarily have a real reason to be anxious and or stressed, they often may be in fear of losing their favorite toy or in fear of a monster they saw in a scary movie the night before, etc. A teenager who suffers from GAD may have more reasons than a child for being anxious and or stressed because they may be worrying about how they won’t be able to fit in with a certain group of people because he or she doesn’t have the best shoes or clothes. An adult who suffers from GAD may be constantly worried about paying their bills, student loans, and or a spouse. A few personality traits of those with GAD are that they will have a difficult time concentrating, will always seem distressed when they must make decisions, inability to relax, and they will seem spaced out sometimes. It is important to recognize these personality traits within yourself or someone else immediately. GAD can change ones thought patterns. A person who doesn’t have GAD will think situations more clearly and will take the necessary means to better that situation that they are in. Whereas a person who suffers from GAD will take a situation and turn it into something much more extreme and by doing so, they will miss out on important ways of which they can better the situation. Their emotions towards stressful situations will be brought on by fear and constant worry. They will overthink their solutions to a stressful situation due to that feeling of fear.
As stated previously, GAD is more prevalent in woman more than men. Women tend to suffer more from GAD then men because their hormones are constantly fluctuating. An increase in estrogen or progesterone can impact how GAD will affect the woman. Women are more susceptible to stress than men and both genders have different ways of managing and coping with stress. Women tend to overthink certain situations and constantly worry about the situation while men spend less time worrying, and more time trying to better the situation. During the perinatal period, a woman tends to feel more anxious because she may be worried about her infant and whether the infant will be healthy. During this time, women should avoid stressful situations in order to have a healthy pregnancy. However, a person may suffer from GAD because of a dangerous event like a hurricane, a house fire, or an earthquake. Those people will worry about whether those events will once happen again and if so, when will they happen. A person may also suffer from GAD due to negative childhood experiences like being abused or by being bullied. Those type of negative childhood experiences will more than likely stick with that person and they must figure out what is the best way for them to get past it or either they’ll allow it to tear them down. When there is a dangerous childhood experience in the picture, the person will hold on to that fear and anxiety and they won’t know how to properly cope with the situation. It is best for the person whom is suffering from GAD to try to do things that makes them genuinely feel happy. They also would need to stay away from anything that could bring about that feeling of worry and stress.
Treatment is very important for a person to consider who’s dealing with GAD. The first form of treatment would be medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), anxiolytic, and antidepressants. These medications help to reduce the symptoms of GAD such as fear, worrying, and restlessness. These medications must be prescribed by a psychiatrist and one must be given a proper diagnosis of the psychological disorder. For those who may not be able to afford certain medications or simply for those who don’t like medications, there are also home remedies that are proven to help reduce the symptoms of GAD. A few of these home remedies would be to exercise more often, indulge in healthy foods, reduce caffeine intake, avoid alcohol and smoking, and to try different types of relaxation techniques. Being consistent with these home remedies will help for someone who deals with GAD to feel much better in no time. There are also different types of therapies of which one could attend to let their voice be heard and whether the therapy is going to be short-term or long-term all depends on the severity of the person’s anxiety. The first type of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy which is a type of therapy that mainly focuses on changing those unhealthy behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy deals with thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The second type of therapy is rational behavior therapy which pushes the person to develop better self-counseling skills. This helps the person because it pushes them to try their hardest to become better.
Therapy is seen as a better option than medication because it is known for therapy to do more than just treating your symptoms, it’s allowing the person to put everything out onto the table and discuss it. Therapy helps people to look at their situations differently and in less frightening ways. It teaches people how to relax and take each step one at a time. Without therapy, the percentage for those who are dealing with GAD would be much higher.
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