This disorder is characterized as anxiety lasting for a minimum period of six months, this anxiety is
not normally accompanied by phobias or panic attacks. To be diagnosed as having generalized
anxiety disorder, your fear must be focused on at least two stressful situations or circumstances
(perhaps relationship worries, finance, health etc), this fear must occur on most days during a six
month period. If you are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder it is quite normal for you to
spend a lot of your waking hours worrying, also the severity of the worry will be out of proportion to
the actual probability of the feared event happening.
In addition to continual worry this disorder will involve having three or more of the following list of
six symptoms, with some of these symptoms being present most days during the past six month
Getting tired easily
Unable to concentrate
Feeling restless or keyed up
If your doctor has told you that you are suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, he or she will
have ruled out (by examination or tests) any medical reason for your unremitting anxiety, such as
a thyroid problem, breathing incorrectly (hyperventilation) or perhaps drug induced anxiety. In
many sufferers depression can also accompany the anxiety and it is difficult to determine which
disorder is primary and which is secondary.
Generalized anxiety disorder often develops in childhood and if not recognised and treated will
carry forward into adult life. It can also present itself in the adult population at any time, often
coming out of the blue when a person least expects it.
Although it is not thought that specific phobias are present in generalized anxiety disorder
research has shown the disorder is often sustained by basic fears such as in the following list.
Fear of illness or death
Fear of non accomplishment or failure
Fear of being rejected
Fear of losing control of the situation
Fear of being unable to cope
The disorder can be exasperated by stressful situations that will elicit one or more of the above
listed fears and worries. The underlying cause of generalized anxiety disorder is largely unknown
although it is thought to involve childhood experiences and heredity factors amongst other triggers.
Treatment methods include:
Distraction therapy - takes your mind away from your worries
Lifestyle change - to include exercise, diet, stress management
Relaxation training - breathing techniques and deep relaxation methods
Cognitive therapy - worrying thoughts are replaced with realistic thinking
Medication - Buspar (an anti-anxiety drug) has been found to be helpful for this type of anxiety
disorder and may be used in combination with an SSRI medication
If you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from this disorder then seek help, initially from
your family doctor who will discuss treatment options and may refer you to a specialist who has
more experience of generalized anxiety disorder. Help is available, you do not have to suffer in
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