Kinds of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety can present as many different disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic attacks, and specific phobias. While all of these disorders all include anxious feelings as a symptom, the other symptoms and causes vary significantly.
A mental health professional must be the one to officially diagnose a patient with any type of anxiety disorder. However, understanding the signs of anxiety disorders can help people know if they need therapeutic interventions.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
When people live with GAD, they experience high stress for at least a few days at a time. Sometimes, these periods of anxiety can last for several weeks. The worry is so severe that the person struggles to complete everyday tasks.
People with GAD do have days in which they do not worry so much. Officially, someone only has GAD when they have more bad days than good days for at least six months. When people do not quite meet this requirement, they may have a different type of anxiety disorder.
What Triggers GAD
Life events can cause someone to develop GAD. Stress about their health, work, or relationships can cause this chronic state of worry. In these cases, counselors help clients discover what parts of life are causing undue stress. They then work together to find ways to change or cope with these issues.
Biological Reasons for GAD
In some cases, chemical imbalances in the brain cause GAD. However, researchers continue to look into the biological causes of these imbalances. While the research has yet to determine exact causes, some scientists believe that GAD is inherited in some families.
How Common is GAD?
Approximately 6.8 million adults in the United States live with GAD. While it’s harder to get clear statistics on GAD in children and teens, we know that minors can develop GAD as well. About one-third of all GAD cases are severe.
Sadly, less than one-half of people who have GAD symptoms seek professional help. Anyone who shows the signs of an anxiety disorder should get help from a mental health professional.
Symptoms of GAD
While each patient with GAD is unique, the symptoms of this disorder include any combination of the following.
Psychological GAD Symptoms:
- Trouble making large or small decisions
- Feeling constant dread
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Being easily scared
- Feeling “on edge” almost always
- Feeling unable to concentrate
- Increased pulse
- Shaking hands and legs
- Sore or tense muscles
- Fatigue, even with plenty of rest
- Sweating more than normal
Symptoms of GAD in Children and Adolescents:
- Worrying a lot
- Often having an upset stomach, although not sick
- Obsessing over disasters
- Avoiding social interactions
- Perfectionist tendencies
- Needing more reassurance than peers
Treatment Options for GAD
Mental health professionals can help people with GAD find peace. Treatment options include medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Counselors can help clients identify what triggers their anxiety and cope with those issues in more effective ways. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common talk-therapy solutions for anxiety.
People with GAD may need medication in the short-term while they work through therapy or for longer. Common medications for GAD include antidepressants, buspirone, and benzodiazepines.
Defining a Panic Attack
People with and without GAD may experience panic attacks. During these attacks, patients have extreme stress as a response to something that is not life-threatening. Panic attacks often come with physical signs such as trembling, a high pulse, and sweating.