Anxiety that is several times higher in intensity is referred among psychologists as a generalized anxiety disorder. A certain level of anxiety or worry is safe but when there is excessive, exaggerated worry about everyday events and without any known reason, the signs could be indicative of generalized anxiety disorder.
People who have generalized anxiety disorder expect danger almost at all times and just cannot stop worrying about money, health, work, family, etc. The level of anxiety in people with GAD is unrealistic and it is so much out of proportion to the situation that it begins to dominate their everyday lives.
A person with generalized anxiety disorder tends to spend more than half of his/her waking hour worrying. GAD influences the way the patient things and this can lead to physical symptoms, such as:
People with GAD also experience other types of anxiety disorders such as phobias or panic disorders, clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, drug or alcohol misuse, etc.
The exact reason why a person may suffer from GAD is not to know, though there are a couple of factors including genetics, environmental stress as well as brain chemistry that seem to contribute to the development of the disorder. Some of the causes of GAD include:
Genetics: certain researchers suggest that the patient’s family history plays an important role in increasing the likelihood of his/her developing the disease. This indicates that the tendency to develop GAD can be passed from one generation to the other.
Environmental factors: Stressful events such as the death of a loved one, abuse, changing schools or jobs, divorce, etc may lead to GAD. The medical problem may also get worse with periods of stress. Other things that can worsen anxiety include addictive substances such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, etc.
The brain’s chemistry: GAD has been linked to abnormal functioning of nerve cell pathways that connect certain regions of the brain involved in thinking as well as emotion. These connections are dependent on certain chemicals that are called neurotransmitters. If the pathways that connect the nerve regions do not run as effectively as they should, mood problems are like to be triggered. Medicines, psychotherapies as well as other medical treatments are said to tweak these neurotransmitters, thus improving the signalling between the circuits and helping in improving symptoms that are related to depression or anxiety.
4 million adult Americans suffer from GAD during the course of one year and it often starts in childhood or adolescence, but may also start in adulthood.