Have you ever heard about Generalized Anxiety Disorder? It is a disorder in which the person has recurrent and exaggerated concerns about daily life, so that it is impossible for them to relax because it produces chronic anxiety and there comes a time when worries control their life. The most common worries that they usually have are related to the family, health (their own or their loved ones), losing their jobs and economic matters (ruining themselves, stealing their assets, etc.).
After reading the definition, there are likely to be people who think they may have GAD because they tend to worry a lot about the things that happen to them. That is normal and everyone is passing it, the interesting thing here is to know to what extent those concerns can be pathological or not. Therefore, if you want to know more about the subject, we leave you some signs that will help you to find out if you have a GAD and if you should consult with a mental health professional.
What causes GAD?
We cannot talk about direct causes of GAD because there are not, it would be more appropriate to think about risk factors, these are those that increase the chances of a person suffering from the disorder.
- To have a relative who also has an anxiety disorder or a depressive disorder, the probability is greater if it is about our parents.
- Have suffered a traumatic episode in the past.
- Have a chronic physical condition such as diabetes, alcoholism and addiction to other drugs.
- After having had a baby.
- Have memory problems.
- Being a woman and being less than 25 years of age (most anxiety disorders start from young age).
- Have had anxiety problems in childhood.
- Being too demanding. People who consider that their success in life is related to their level of performance are very concerned about the fear of failure.
- New and stressful situations in the life of the person. For example, the arrival of a new boss to work or that a close relative seriously ill can awaken in an anxious person fears related to losing the job or not being able to take care of the relative.
- New situation in the person who makes him vulnerable, for example, people who have been independent all their lives tend to suffer great anxiety when others have to take care of him.
Signs that you have a GAD
1. Recurring concerns about the same issues
These thoughts are constant and only give you tension and anxiety. Turning them around does not help you solve anything and the more you think about them, the worse you feel, so you enter a vicious circle. The anxiety generated by these thoughts must be constant and irrational, so the person feels constantly with nerves.
2. Anxiety or worry is not associated with specific episodes
It must be continuous and maintained for 6 months almost every day, it does not predominate before any particular environmental circumstance, it has to occur regularly in several areas of the subject’s life. The worries are usually related to fears of oneself, fear that misfortunes may occur to family members or to the couple.
3. Difficulty concentrating
The person cannot have a “blank” mind and has trouble paying attention to things. It is lost when doing tasks because it is dispersed and you cannot think clearly about what you have to do. Your mind is always worrying about something.
4. Continuous tiredness
You will feel fatigue without knowing very well the reason, you do not feel like anything and you always feel exhausted despite having slept an acceptable number of hours. He wakes up tired always. It is because the brain does not come to rest, it is always turning around the issues that concern it.
He has problems to sleep or to maintain it. It can also happen that you do not have problems when going to bed but that you wake up after a few hours, without being able to strike the eye again.
6. Continuous tension, both physical and mental
The person will always be on alert, so he will always be alert for what may happen, not only his brain but also his body. You may also feel muscle pain.
People who suffer from anxiety disorder are characterized because they are continually concerned that they are also often angry with their loved ones and at the same time take care of them. In the end they end up entering a dynamic of anger-worry-anger-worry from which it is difficult to leave. They are also likely to feel guilty for being angry with them and fear not fixing things with them on time (in case something horrible happens in the future).
8. Physical symptoms derived from anxiety such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Taquicardia and tachypnea
- Feeling of shortness of breath, drowning…
- Dry mouth
To be able to say that the person has a GAD, they must have these symptoms that are accompanied by 3 physical signs mentioned above during at least the last 6 months.
9. Fear of dying
When the disorder is serious the person can even fear for his own life, believes that he is going crazy and that he himself is going to cause that something bad could happen in the future. Other psychological symptoms that they have are the feeling of derealization, depersonalization and finally fear of losing consciousness and dying.
10- Exclusion criteria
To begin anxiety does not occur as a result of being under the effects of a substance such as a drug, nor can we attribute it as a consequence of a physical illness such as hyperthyroidism. We also have to keep in mind that this anxiety should not be better explained by the presence of another disorder such as a depression or panic disorder, it can be difficult to differentiate at times and we must be very cautious. Finally, to be able to say that the person really has a GAD its effects have to suppose a great problem in their daily life, that is, they must cause significant discomfort in the different areas of their life (family, social and work/academic).
Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The treatment of GAD is usually done with a combination of medications and psychotherapy, usually with cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT helps the patient understand how problems, thoughts, feelings and behaviors affect him. Therapy can also help to question negative thoughts and anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy usually involves a weekly consultation with a specialized therapist, with an average duration of 1 hour.
The second stage of generalized anxiety disorder treatment is performed with medications, usually from the class of antidepressants.
The treatment is carried out for at least one year. If the patient, however, relapses each time there is a drug suspension, treatment with drugs may remain indefinitely.
The first-line drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) antidepressants, such as: escitalopram, citalopram, sertraline, paroxetine or fluoxetine.
Another acceptable option is antidepressants that inhibit the recapture of serotonin and norepinephrine, such as venlafaxine or duloxetine. You can also be used: buspirone or pregabalin.
Benzodiazepines are a type of sedative that can be used as a short-term treatment during a period of anxiety crisis because they help relieve symptoms quickly, within 30 to 90 minutes after ingestion.
Clonazepam, Diazepam and Lorazepam are the most widely used drugs of this class.