What is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) ?
Most of us feel nervous before an exam or an interview. We worry about whether we will be able to complete the syllabus; or that if we don’t get the job we’re applying for, we will struggle financially. Some amount of stress helps us but only if it is of a manageable level. A person living with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experiences a heightened state of worry or anxiety for a long period, and for no apparent reason. These feelings are uncontrollable and in most cases, the person is aware that their anxiety is unwarranted—for example, even the thought of completing daily tasks can make them feel anxious.
What are the symptoms of GAD?
The symptoms of GAD are similar to those of other anxiety disorders. The most common symptoms are:
Behavioral symptoms: The person becomes irritable; gets startled easily; and has trouble concentrating.
Physical symptoms: Includes—but isn’t limited to—fatigue; nausea; headaches; body aches; sweating; shortness of breath and dizziness.
If someone you know has been exhibiting these symptoms, it is possible that they are struggling with GAD.
What are its causes?
As with many other mental health issues, the exact cause is unknown. It is usually a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. Other factors including genetics, daily stress, work pressure or financial problems are also known to cause anxiety.
What are the treatment options for GAD?
Treatment usually involves medication or psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is known to be an effective mode of treatment for GAD.
Caring for someone with GAD
If your loved one is showing symptoms of GAD, you can help them recover. Learn about the disorder to develop an understanding of what the person is going through; encourage them to seek professional help; share information with them on the effectiveness of treatment or therapy; you can also offer to accompany them to medical appointments.
Coping with GAD
Although there are many self-help techniques to manage the symptoms, it’s important to first consult a mental health professional to get a thorough diagnosis and learn what the required treatment plan is.
Practicing meditation, exercising regularly and making use of other relaxation techniques are an effective way to get relief from anxiety. Being consistent with these practices can help reduce overall anxiety levels. There are people who choose to avoid medication and manage their anxiety by regular exercise, meditation and breathing techniques, eating healthy. In the case of others, these methods can complement their medication. The treatment for GAD varies from person to person.