Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic and often disabling condition that is associated with uncontrollable worry and tension. The vicious cycle of anxiety and worry interferes with relationships, careers, and education, and often leads to depression. This disorder is much more than the normal anxiety that everyone experiences from time to time, and can be crippling in its severity. GAD is unlikely to disappear without proper treatment, and often worsens over time.
Physical manifestations of GAD often include headaches, trembling, twitching, fatigue, irritability, frustration, muscle tension, and inability to concentrate. Sleep disturbances may also occur. Individuals suffering from this disorder may appear to be always tense and unable to relax, or may startle more easily than others. Often they might seem to be constantly moving or fidgeting, unable to sit comfortably through a movie without worrying about something else that needs to be done.
Some research suggests that GAD may run in families, and it Generalized Anxiety Disorder may grow worse during times of stress. Symptoms can begin at any age, but the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. GAD affects about 4 million adult Americans. Women are twice as likely to be affected than men. The disorder usually comes on gradually, although it can be suddenly triggered by a childhood psychological trauma, the death of a loved one, divorce, and losing or changing a job.
DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria:
1. Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).
2. The person finds it difficult to control the worry.
3. The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms present for more days than not for the past 6 months). Note: Only one item is required in children.
- restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
- being easily fatigued
- difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- muscle tension
... middle of paper ...
...he anxiety the patient is having.
There are many studies pertaining to generalized anxiety disorder. The studies examine the genetic and environmental risks for major anxiety disorders, their course-both alone and when they occur along with other diseases such as depression-and their treatment. Like heart disease and diabetes, these brain disorders are complex and probably result from a combination of genetic, behavioral, developmental, and other factors. Much of the research of anxiety centers on the amygdale, an almond-shaped structure deep within the brain. The amygdale is believed to serve as a communications hub between the parts of the brain that process incoming sensory signals and the parts that interpret them. Other research focuses on the hippocampus, another brain structure that is responsible for processing threatening or traumatic stimuli. By learning more about brain circuitry involved in fear and anxiety, scientists may be able to devise new and more specific treatments for anxiety disorders. Researchers are attempting to learn how genetics and experience interact in each of the anxiety disorders-information they hope will yield clues to prevention and treatment.