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Generalized anxiety disorder


Disease: Generalized anxiety disorder Generalized anxiety disorder
Category: Psychiatric diseases

Disease Definition:

If a person's life is stressful, it's normal to feel anxious from time to time. However, a person may have generalized anxiety disorder in case they have ongoing anxiety that interferes with their everyday activities and relationships.


Someone may develop generalized anxiety disorder during childhood or adulthood. The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are similar to those of obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and many other types of anxiety, despite the fact that all of these are different conditions.


In some cases, generalized anxiety disorder occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders. Living with this disorder could be a long-term challenge. Psychotherapy or medications usually improve generalized anxiety disorder, and some of the other techniques that could also help include learning coping skills, using relaxation techniques and making lifestyle changes.


Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


Listed below are some of the signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, which could vary in combination and severity:


  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Constant obsession or worrying about large or small concerns.
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle aches or muscle tension
  • Rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Difficulty concentrating or the mind "going blank"
  • Sweating, nausea or diarrhea
  • Restlessness and feeling keyed up or on edge.
  • Trembling, feeling twitchy or being easily startled.


Even though there may be times that worries won't completely consume the patient, however, they will still feel anxious even without an apparent reason; for instance, the patient may have a general feeling that something bad is going to happen, or they may worry about their own safety or the safety of their loved ones.


Usually, the signs and symptoms of this disorder develop more slowly than in other anxiety disorders, but this particular disorder begins at an early age. Most people with generalized anxiety disorder cannot remember the last time they were at ease or relaxed.


Generalized anxiety disorder requires ongoing treatment, and is a chronic condition. The patient may not feel anxious all of the time, especially with treatment, however, they will always be at great risk of becoming anxious, particularly when their life becomes stressful.


As mentioned before, this disorder usually occurs with other mental health conditions, such as mood disorders, substance abuse problems and anxiety disorders. Major depression is the most common condition that generalized anxiety disorder occurs with.

The symptoms of children and adolescents:

Along with the symptoms and other conditions mentioned above, some of the things that children and adolescents could have excessive worries about include:


  • Catastrophic events, such as a nuclear war or earthquakes
  • Performance at school or sporting events
  • Punctuality


A child with generalized anxiety disorder could also:


  • Be a perfectionist
  • Have lack of confidence
  • Strive for approval
  • Require a lot of reassurance about performance
  • Feel over anxious to fit in
  • Redo tasks because they aren't perfect the first time


Feeling anxious from time to time is quite normal, however, a person should see a doctor in case:


  • They feel depressed, have other mental health concerns along with anxiety, or have trouble with drinking or drugs.
  • They feel that they're worrying too much and it's interfering with their work, relationships or other parts of their life


A person should seek emergency treatment immediately in case he/she or someone he/she know has suicidal thoughts or behaviors.


Over time, the worries could get worse and are not likely to go away on their own. Anxiety is easier to treat at its early stages, so a person should try seeking professional care before it becomes severe.


The exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder is still not known, just like many other mental health conditions. It is likely that this disorder has several causes including genetics, environment and stress. It could also involve naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.



Generalized anxiety disorder, other than making a person worry all the time, could also cause or worsen other physical and mental conditions, such as:


  • Insomnia, which means trouble sleeping
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Bruxism, which is when a person grinds their teeth
  • Digestive or bowel problems
  • Substance abuse


Psychotherapy and medications are the two main treatments for generalized anxiety disorder. However, the combination of the two could be most beneficial. In order to discover what treatment works best, the patient may have to go through a period or trial and error.



Some of the types of medications that are used to treat this disorder include:


This anti-anxiety medication usually takes up to several weeks to become fully effective, just like most antidepressants. This medication could be used on an ongoing basis. Feeling lightheaded shortly after taking this medication is one of its common side effects. Nausea, headaches, nervousness and insomnia are some of its less common side effects.


The activity of the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are thought to play a role in anxiety disorders, are influenced by these medications. Sertaline, imipramine, fluoxetine, venlafaxine and paroxetine are some of the antidepressants that are also used to treat generalized anxiety disorder.


Diazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam, chlordiazepoxide and lorazepam are some of the sedatives that are prescribed in limited circumstances for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms. Usually, benzodiazepines are only used for relieving acute anxiety on a short-term basis because they could be addictive. Reduced muscle coordination, problems with balance and memory and drowsiness are some of the side effects of these medications.



In psychotherapy, stresses and concerns are worked out and behavior changes are made. Also called psychological counseling and talk therapy, psychotherapy could be a very effective treatment for anxiety.


One of the most common types of psychotherapy used to treat generalized anxiety disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is usually a short-term treatment that focuses on teaching the patient specific skills to identify negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with positive ones. By changing the way the patient responds, he/she could reduce stress and gain more control over their life, even if an undesirable situation does not change.


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