Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD affects 6.8 million adults in the US population on any given year, with women being more often diagnosed than men. GAD is characterized by persistent and excessive worrying about any number of subjects, including one’s career, health, family life, future or anticipated disasters, and many GAD sufferers would describe themselves as “worriers.” While everyone worries, those affected with GAD find that the amount and intensity of their worry takes a toll on their quality of life. While GAD and OCD are both anxiety disorders, individuals with GAD typically do not engage in ritualistic, repetitive behaviors in order to calm the anxiety they feel. Also, those with GAD tend to worry about real-life concerns, although the amount they worry would seem excessive, while those with OCD frequently worry about more irrational or highly unlikely scenarios (ex: what if I'm secretly a mass murderer?)
How can I identify GAD?
· Excessive and out of proportion worries about multiple aspects of one’s life
· Frequently thinking about the worst case scenario
· Constantly feeling “on edge” and experiencing a difficulty relaxing and letting go
· Seeking reassurance from friends, family or the internet that things will be ok
· Difficulty making decisions
· Interrupted sleep or disturbed sleep, often times because of worries
· Irritability or muscle aches
· Tension headaches and depressed mood
GAD is sometimes accompanied by depression as well, as being worried or preoccupied for hours of one’s day can take a toll on their mood. Excessive anxiety can also take a toll on one's personal life and marriage. Thankfully, Generalized Anxiety Disorder is highly treatable and manageable with the right strategies. Using Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) to challenge faulty thinking and exaggerated thought patterns, Mindfulness and Acceptance therapies, and Exposure and Response prevention (ERP) to gradually face fears, you can learn to manage GAD and live a more fulfilling and productive life.