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What does it Mean to Have a Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

You get nerves and worried sometimes. No need to say this is comparatively normal in our full of stress busy rapid life. Feeling worried a way long of time is another story. This is what you should not experience, and if you do – you probably are having a GAD - a generalized anxiety disorder.

Do you remember those "I’m always on edge....." or "what ifs" thoughts? Or if you are panic of sleeping along at home? This is when you actually stay worried without any obvious reason. To the way that it is impossible to even remember yourself ever feeling relaxed and calm. This is a GAD that you’re having.

Learn to know about GAD

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) a generalized anxiety disorder is a state of person when he or she anticipates disaster and concerns too much about different issues (such as health, money, family, work, etc.). That means that the person feels tense and worried all day long, can not relax and because of that very often feels chest pains, headaches and feels tired a lot.

To know why this state is a disorder let’s define the state of worry. Why the person gets worried? This is the reaction of our brain to an anticipated danger or imagined threatening situation. The body in its way says that you should do something to avoid this danger. Or do something to mild it up, or to smooth the consequences of the dangerous situation as possible. Anxiety, according to the behavioral theory, results from not knowing how to behave in a given situation. The possibility of suffering negative consequences because of inappropriate behavior may result in hesitation and inaction. Most people experience worry or anxiety before or after a stressful event, such as an important event presentation (wedding, birth of child) or a traumatic loss (death). This kind of anxiety actually even motivates you to do your best and to respond appropriately to danger. It pushes you to the action.

Though, sometimes you just get worried without any reason, even when a stressful or threatening situation isn’t immediately apparent. As you do not even know the reason and do not actually see the danger – this anxiety limits your strength to think and act appropriately. It bounds your will and prevents your daily activities. You realize these feelings are irrational. Nevertheless, the feelings are very real. At this point, there is no "energy" and no desire to want to do much. As a result, the person feels there’s no way out of the anxiety and worry cycle, and then becomes depressed about. This is a disorder that should and can be recognized and treated.

So, worrying about my money is a disorder?

No. Unless you worry about them after losing your job. Or if you have children, no husband and a job that ‘does not pay your bills’. This means you have a REASON for your worry. Though, it is always best for your health to stay calm and sure in your strength. It is also normal (and understandable) to be worried about your health if you start having chest pains, or pain in your, say, left leg. It is realistic to be worried about your son who lives in a tough neighborhood. All these have a realistic and natural worry in their roots.

But generalized anxiety disorder gets you differently. It is a chronic, excessive worry concerning events that are unlikely to occur. So, where does disorder start? Generalized anxiety disorder starts when normal levels of anxiety become severe, limit everyday activities, and persist over more than a few months. For person with GAD normal living is a problem, because he or she anticipates some unlikely to happen or unrealistic danger or disaster and fear of some immediate future, but … feels unable to take action or to control events.

What are the symptoms of GAD?

You may experience a number of physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder as well. These are:

·  lack of energy

·  fatigue

·  stomach problems (nausea or diarrhea)

· headaches

· muscle tension and muscle aches

· trembling and twitching

· grinding of teeth

· sweating or hot flashes on your face and body

·  dry mouth

·  difficulty swallowing

·  feeling out of breath

·  hot flashes on your face and body

· lightheadedness or dizziness

·  having to go to the bathroom frequently

They can not relax even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. They are difficult to concentrate on their daily routine. Although, when their anxiety level is mild, they can function socially and hold down a job. Till the first stressful situation occur. But still such person always thinking and thinking, and thinking. The person’s thoughts keep running and running, with worrisome thoughts being repeated again and again. It can be easily compared with a car motor stuck on too high an idle.

To sum up, the psychological symptoms are as follows:

·  chronic worry about events that are unlikely to occur

·  feelings of dread

·  inability to relax and calm down

·  constant anxious thoughts without strength to shut it all off

·  irritability

·  trouble concentrating

·  trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

For the GAD diagnose these symptoms must be consistent. They must be monitored for at least 6 month. They may be worsen or get better. Normal life stresses generally aggravate generalized anxiety.

What are the causes of generalized anxiety disorder?

GAD is associated with irregular levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. These are chemicals that carry signals across nerve endings. These irregularities can triggered by stressors in people who are predisposed to high levels of anxiety by hereditary factors or environmental influences (in the list below). Norepinephrine is concentrated in the nerve cluster that lies near the brain's fourth ventricle and is called locus ceruleus. Increased activity in this area is associated with anxiety, and decreased activity leads to the diminishing of anxiety. Neurotransmitters that seem to involve anxiety include norepinephrine, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), and serotonin. Increased levels of GABA and serotonin seem to reduce anxiety.

There are a lot of risk factors that can provoke generalized anxiety disorder.

1.  Long stress at work, at home. Stressful relationships.

2.  Lack of sleep for a long period of time.

3.  Stressful situations in the life – matters areas (health, finance).

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder. These are:

1. Childhood adversity. Children, who endured hardships or adversity, including witnessing traumatic events, are at higher risk. Many people with generalized anxiety disorder believe their worries date back to childhood.

2.   Stress. A buildup of stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety. For example, having a physical illness, along with the stress of missing work – these together may combine to cause the disorder.

3.  Disease. Having a serious illness, such as cancer, can make you anxious. Worrying about the future, your treatment and your money for it can become excessive and overwhelming. Add to these worry about your relatives or children, how do they feel while you are struggling with the disease.

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4. Personality. People with some personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders. People with unmet psychological needs, such as having a close relationship that isn't fulfilling, may feel less secure in any kind of relationships and may be more at risk of generalized anxiety disorder.

5. Genetics. There is a theory that generalized anxiety disorder has a genetic component that causes it to run in families.

What if I have a GAD?

Don’t worry! :) About 3 to 4 percent of people around the world are having a generalized anxiety disorder. Only 6.8 million American adults experience GAD. GAD affects about twice as many women as men. You are not along. And there is a treatment for your condition. Read it in the next articles.

Valentyna Ant.

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