There may be times when anxiety and worry can get out of control and we can become hypersensitive to alarms that signal danger when there is none. Anxiety becomes a disorder when the symptoms become chronic and interfere with our daily lives and our ability to function. One of the most common types of anxiety disorders is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. GAD affects about 6.8 million American adults, including twice as many women than men.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder involves excessive anxiety/worry occurring more days than not and for a period of at least six months. The disorder is a pattern of frequent, constant worry and anxiety over many different activities and events. The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

  • Having this disorder means a feeling of always anticipating disaster. There is chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even though nothing seems to provoke it or that is out of proportion to the situation. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder seem unable to relax and often have trouble falling or staying asleep.
  • Common physical symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder include muscle tension resulting in headaches or shakiness, stomach/intestinal ailments, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, fatigue, the feeling of a lump in the throat, lightheadedness, and restlessness.
  • The onset of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is gradual and may start at any time in a person’s life, but most often it develops in childhood or adolescence.
  • Biological and psychological factors play a role in this condition. It has been estimated that about 30 percent of the causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are inherited.
  • Stressful life situations or behavior developed through learning may contribute to the onset.

If you have concerns that you or someone you care about may be experiencing chronic or prolonged feelings of worry or anxiety, don’t hesitate to contact a medical professional.

Sources: Healthwise, Science Daily, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Daily News Central, Healing Well, National Institute of Mental Health, Psych Central, Center for Cognitive Therapy, and Washington and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centers. For additional information, consult your physician.