Indeed, worrying is normal among people. It is how our brain responds to circumstances that need analysis in order to be solved. However, chronic worrying leading to intense and long-term anxiety could be harmful to health and life of an individual. Exaggerated anxiety, defined as feelings of dread, nervousness, uneasiness or obsession about a particular concern could be considered as signs of General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

General anxiety disorder could interfere in one’s ability to function properly. It is uncontrollable anxiety that is often unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. People with GAD may worry about the same concerns that other people do, but they worry about these circumstances in a different level. Their anxiety attacks are experienced in chronic peaks, bothering their consciousness, affecting their physical health, logical thinking, productivity, sleep, even their loved ones. Good thing, experts have developed different anxiety medications that could efficiently help individuals suffering from this disorder.

However, before considering an approach to psychological or psychiatric care, it is vital that the individual should first undergo medical examination to rule out other biological and other environmental causes or possibilities of anxiety. For instance, frequent consumption of coffee could as well present similar symptoms of anxiety, even panic attacks. It is important to first filter out physiological and lifestyle factors before having a final self-diagnosis of GAD.

Symptoms

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Symptoms of general anxiety disorder vary from one individual to another. These symptoms are usually experienced in a combination of emotional, behavioral, and physical changes which have a tendency to become worse in times of stress:

Emotional symptoms

Constant feeling of fear, dread or apprehension

Uncontrollable thinking/worrying or anticipation of disaster

Having persistent negative thoughts leading to anxiety; people with GAD may try to avoid these negative thoughts and worries, but they can’t

Individuals with general disorder anxiety cannot handle uncertainty; they intensely worry about the future

They worry too much about worrying

Behavioral symptoms

Incapability to relax or enjoy a quiet time alone

Having troubles in concentration

Avoiding people or circumstances that might trigger anxiety

Withdrawing from activities that could be overwhelming

Physical Symptoms

Tensed muscles, body aches

Reduced quality of sleep due to unavoidable thoughts that hinders initiation of sleep

Exhaustion, feeling of restlessness

Stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea

Anxiety test

You may answer the following questions from Scientific America and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders regarding GAD:

Have you experienced:

  • Excessive anxiety and worry on most days for at least six months?
  • Worry that’s difficult to control?
  • Anxiety or worry associated with three or more of the following:
    • Restlessness or feeling on edge?
    • Being easily fatigued?
    • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank?
    • Irritability?
    • Muscle tension?
    • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)?
  • Anxiety or worry that causes significant distress or interferes with your daily life?
  • Anxiety that isn’t related to a health condition, substance abuse, or a medication?
  • Anxiety that isn’t related to another mental health condition, such as panic attacks, social phobia, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

If you answered “yes” to all six of the above questions, you may have generalized anxiety disorder. Follow the self-help tips below or consult a mental health professional.

This questionnaire is not intended to replace professional diagnosis.

Treatments

Self-help

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Be physically active. Doing physical exercise is an effective way to reduce anxiety, as our body produces endorphins or happy hormones that alleviate stress. Additionally, engaging in physical work-outs improves mood by giving a “good feeling” about ourselves. It is also a good way to keep your body healthy.

Avoid alcoholic drinks and other sedatives. These products have components that could intensify anxiety, therefore should be avoided.

Avoid tobacco, cigarettes and coffee. As mentioned, these products don’t only initiate similar symptoms of anxiety but as well could trigger anxiety itself in some individuals. Products like these have brain stimulating components, inducing hyper activity of thoughts.

Engage in relaxation practices. Practices like meditation, yoga, even spiritual healing could decrease anxiety by calming the mind and avoiding negative thoughts.

Sleep well. Sleep should be prioritized in people suffering from general anxiety disorder. Make sure you always have a good rest as it could also calm the mind as well as the body. If your anxiety prevents you from having a good sleep, consult your doctor.

Eat organic, healthy food. What we put inside our body affects its overall function. Therefore, eating healthy could consequence to proper functioning of mind, reducing stress and anxiety.

Psychotherapy

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Psychotherapy is one of the effective treatments for individuals with diagnosed general anxiety disorder. It is also known “talk therapy or psychological counseling” where the therapist reduces the symptoms of anxiety through cognitive behavioral therapy.

Mayoclinic defined psychotherapy as, “Generally a short-term treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on teaching you specific skills to gradually return to the activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety. Through this process, your symptoms improve as you build on your initial success.”

Medications for anxiety

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Taking medications to treat or reduce the symptoms of GAD is usually the last approach to be considered. These medications can only be prescribed by the physician as most of it has accompanying side effects, and has possible interactions with food and other medicines. The following is most commonly prescribed drugs for anxiety:

  • Antidepressants such as Serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Other drugs for anxiety are Escitalopram (Lexapro), duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR) and paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva).
  • Buspirone
  • Benzodiazepines are sedatives that are prescribed in limited cases of anxiety. Examples of benzodiazepines for anxiety are alprazolam (Niravam, Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan).
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