Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? 

Generalized anxiety disorder is often described as the feeling of anxiety, concern, apprehension, and worry that is present for most days for a minimum of 6 months. The sense of worry is in regards to a variety of different aspects of one’s life. Generalized anxiety disorder is found to be more common amongst females and it typically presents during the early 20s. 

What are the signs and symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

In addition to the feeling of substantial worry, generalized anxiety disorder is associated with a minimum of 3 symptoms. These include:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Shakiness
  • Irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Nausea

Generalized anxiety disorder is more of a constant rather than being exacerbated through different situations. It is found to be persistent with the inability to set aside the feeling of excessive worry, restlessness, or uncertainty. Often, the symptoms are found to be difficult to control and out of proportion to the event. Furthermore, the symptoms tend to interfere with various aspects of one’s life such as occupationally, socially, or areas of one’s daily activities. 

What are the causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder is often found to be caused by multiple factors. These include one’s family history, way of development, personality, and functionality of the brain in terms of how various situations or experiences are understood. 

How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosed? 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed through the utilization of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) set forth by the American Psychiatric Association. In addition, various physical examination findings with a medical provider can further establish the diagnosis. 

How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder treated through a non-pharmacological approach? 

Along with many entities of medicine, there are both pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches towards treatment. As far as the non-pharmacological treatment mechanisms for generalized anxiety disorder, psychotherapy has been found to be of significant amelioration to one’s symptoms. Psychotherapy encompasses the individual and therapist functioning together as a team to help modify and cope with one’s symptoms. Of the forms of psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been found to provide the greatest benefit to patients. Through this approach, improvements in one’s symptoms have been noted through lifestyle changes, coping mechanisms, and various techniques of relaxation when it comes to engaging with aspects of one’s life that previously exacerbated the symptoms. Additional non-pharmacological approaches to managing symptoms are implementing a healthier lifestyle through one’s diet and exercise. 
According to the American Academy of Family Physician’s informative article, Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders, by Dr. Atezaz Saeed, MD,  Dr. Richard M. Bloch, PhD, and Dr. Diana Antonacci, MD, there are various herbal approaches that can be utilized towards the treatment of anxiety disorder. An option for mild to moderate anxiety is kava. It is imperative that those who are using kava as a non-pharmacological approach ensure that they are not consuming alcohol or other medications that are also cleared through the liver as kava has been found to obstruct cytochrome P450. This is an enzyme that the liver utilizes to metabolize other products. Another alternative is inositol, however, it is of great importance that it is not used along with selective serotonin inhibitors. In turn, it is of great value for the patient to consult with his or her physician prior to the usage of such supplements.

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