Professor of psychiatry Malcolm Lader defines generalized anxiety disorder as excessive, exaggerated worry that is persistent and not limited to the given circumstances.
Each of us has felt nervous before an exam, an important business meeting or a major life decision.
The feeling of anxiety, worry, and stress in these situations is entirely justified. This inner restlessness is not only short-lived but we also already clearly know its source. Some experts point out that it is even positive, as it makes us more careful and more concentrated.
However, this is not the case with 3 % of the population. They feel undefined fear and chronic trepidation that are characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder does not develop overnight
Generalized anxiety can occur at any age. Although it most often occurs in the thirties, and primarily in women. In childhood, it is associated with school obligations, sports competitions and pressure from the society, while in adults, it manifests itself due to the fear of failure and non-fulfillment of specific goals.
Many factors affect the occurrence of this type of anxiety. It has been found that genetics plays an important role. So people whose families already know of the disorder are in a risk group. Also, the environment, family relationships, as well as the character itself, can encourage problem development.
Although generalized anxiety disorder is a set of multiple factors, one thing is sure – it is caused by significant trauma. Abuse, death of a close person, divorce, job change are just some of the stressful events listed.
It is not rare that depression and generalized anxiety disorder go hand in hand. This condition is particularly expressed when there is an addiction to pills and other psychoactive substances, including alcohol and nicotine.
How to recognize generalized anxiety disorder?
“What if we go on a trip and we all die?” “What if the inspector at my job finds a mistake and I get
fired?” “What if the bad mood of the child is a sign of a dangerous illness?” “What if … ” is a question characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder.
Namely, these people are afraid of an unpleasant event in the future, although it is not likely that it would actually happen. The concern is particularly focused on family and close friends.
Since the feeling of a floating fear has become an integral part of their lives, they cannot control it. The most common symptoms are irritability, sleep and concentration problems, eating disorders, behavioral changes, and avoiding events they think can lead to danger.
Generalized anxiety disorder also manifests itself in physical symptoms: muscles cramps and tightening accompanied by pain in the nape, neck, shoulders, face, and eyelids. Then there are frequent headaches, chronic fatigue, heart malfunction, difficulty breathing and swallowing, dry mouth, frequent urination, diarrhea.
It is these physical manifestations that confuse patients to report to specialists, with only 13.3 % of them stating anxiety as a problem.
How to treat generalized anxiety disorder?
Only when other diseases related to the physical symptoms are ruled out can generalized anxiety disorder be clearly diagnosed.
Treatment is individual and depends on the severity of the disorder, the general condition, and motivation of the patient. Usually, pharmacotherapeutic and psychotherapeutic methods are combined.
In previous years, benzodiazepine therapy was used. Over time it turned out they were not the best choice, as they act on the symptom, not the cause, and after prolonged taking, they develop an addiction. So today’s treatment uses antidepressants. They relax muscle tension and reduce discomfort while acting on those neurotransmitters that are in disorder-caused imbalance.
The importance of psychotherapy in eliminating this problem is great. Thanks to it, the patient first faces bad thoughts and then learns how to recognize potentially destructive situations that lead to anxiety. The goal of the treatment is to reduce tension and stress using special techniques, as well as to see reality as it is.
Generalized anxiety disorder affects the quality of life, so you should not ignore it. If you have any of these symptoms, visit VIP Vorobjev Clinic. Our expert team will help you solve not only the feelings of discomfort but also the deeper underlying problems. In addition to the pleasant atmosphere in which sessions take place, relaxing therapies in the pool and hot tub are also great importance for the treatment. Within the clinic, there is also a psychotherapeutic gazebo which is a real quiet corner for letting go of all the negative thoughts.