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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Overview

People with generalized anxiety disorder are persistently anxious. Many of us worry about minor things but patients with GAD worry immensely even about minute things and this worry may lead them to be extremely disturbed about day to day activities. Patients with GAD spend a great deal of time worrying about day to day routine activities and they describe this worry as uncontrollable and chronic. Mostly these worries are related to health concerns and daily hassles such as being late for an appointment or having too much work to do. This condition makes them apprehensive all the time and then apprehension may make it difficult for them to concentrate on other important more significant events.


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Causes

Many theories have been suggested as to explain why GAD occurs in the first place. Sigmund Freud’s view suggests that the root cause of anxiety is the struggle between an individual’s ego and id demands. The id, within any individual, demands acts which are sexual or aggressive in nature. The ego within us realizes that these demands are immoral and strives against them. This leads to an unconscious conflict which produces the anxiety associated with the disorder. Because of the unconscious activities, the person cannot explain why this he or she experiences anxiety in the first place. In a sense, there is no way to escape this anxiety; if the person escapes the id he or she is no longer alive. Thus, the person feels anxious nearly all the time.

Another view advocates that the anxiety is resultant of a person’s distorted view of minor events. For example, they may view benign events such as, crossing the street, as threatening and this leads to anxiety as they focus on anticipated future disasters. Furthermore, patients with this disorder view ambiguous events as threatening and to rate ominous events as more likely to occur to them.


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Signs & Symptoms

A patient with this disorder may experience restlessness, fatigue, may have difficulty in concentrating, irritability, muscle tension and sleep disturbances. GAD typically begins in mid-teens and its lifetime prevalence is fairly common. Stressful life events play an important role in the onset of this disorder. Women are twice more likely to suffer from the pathology as compared to men.

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Prevention

Generalized anxiety disorder can be prevented by undertaking various therapies to calm an individual. Proper sleep patterns, eating habits and exercise can help to keep the mind fit. Stress relieving exercises like Yoga, meditation and relaxation therapy can be helpful.


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Treatments
Drug Therapy Modern Medicine

Also, drugs have been used to treat patients with GAD. These are mainly associated with having tranquilizing effects for the patients with extreme worry. Anxiolytics are mainly used and these are probably the most widespread treatment for GAD patients. Drugs, especially the benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, as well as buspirone (BuSpar), are often used because of the disorder’s pervasiveness. Unfortunately, many uncomfortable side effects have been reported by the patients using these drugs. These range from drowsiness, depression, memory loss and physical addiction and damage to bodily organs. Also, withdrawal from these drugs has shown loss of the gains achieved during the treatment session.

Therapy Psychotherapy

GAD is difficult to be treated successfully. In a follow up study only 18 percent of the total patients reported a lessening of their symptoms. However, depending on the belief of the therapist about the cause of the anxiety leads them to follow the kind of treatment pattern they decide to follow.

Therapists with Freud’s belief try to resolve the basic unconscious conflict within the individual. They help patients confront their true source of conflicts from the past and present experiences and help patients adapt the more here-and-now pattern of dealing with situations. Outcomes from this kind of treatment have proved very beneficial and encouraging.

Also, patients with GAD have reported a feeling of helplessness. Therapists try to help the patients with more assertive techniques wherein the patients can develop feelings of competence and self – efficacy. Also, the patient can be taught to think less catastrophically about minor events.

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