Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Development, Diagnosis, Comorbidity and Treatment

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Development, Diagnosis, Comorbidity and Treatment

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As one of the most prevalent mental disorders in America; generalized anxiety disorder –
or GAD – is an important diagnostic consideration for many professionals (Fricchione, 2004).
GAD has been called “worry without reason” (Wehrenberg & Prinz, 2007, p. 116), and can
affect several age groups. Children can develop GAD and suffer from it the rest of their lives.
Adults can also develop it, and it is common among the aging and among women. This could
also possibly be a result of societal pressures on men not to admit to the symptoms (Wehrenberg
& Prinz, 2007). Unlike other related phobias or panic disorders, this is a constant, almost
unrelenting anxiety about events that are unlikely to occur. Symptoms that point to GAD are
restlessness, muscle tension and sleep disturbance, among others (American Psychiatric
Association, 2000) It is useful to study this disorder not only to learn to look for symptoms, but
also to learn how to communicate with and identify dysfunction in others suffering from some
form of anxiety disorder, or even serious stress.
Development of GAD can occur in several ways. It is very likely that in many cases there
is a hereditary predisposition to this disorder. Also, the way a child is raised can greatly increase
or decrease the amount of stress a person experiences or puts on him or herself throughout life.
Children who are especially bright are more likely to struggle with anxiety partly because, not
only are expectations higher, but also understanding the threat of certain situations are more
difficult than it would be for a more experienced adolescent or adult (Verduin & Kendall, 2009).
Environmental stressors are also a determining factor. Life-changing events o...

... middle of paper ...

...n Medical Association Journal, 183(7), 824.
Fricchione, G. (2004). Generalized anxiety disorder. New England Journal of Medicine, 351(7),
675-682. doi: 10.1056/NEJMcp022342
Hayes, J. F. (2011). Generalized anxiety disorder. Innovait, 4(12), 685-690.
Harrison, R. (2012). Anxiety disorder. Annals of The American Psychotherapy
Association, 15(2), 48-57.
McGrandles, A., & Duffy, T. (2012). Assessment and treatment of patients with anxiety. Nursing
Standard, 26(35), 48-56.
Verduin, T., & Kendall, P. (2003). Differential occurrence of comorbidity within childhood
anxiety disorders. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American
Psychological Association, Division 53, 32(2), 290-295.
Wehrenberg, M., & Prinz, S. (2007). The anxious brain: The neurobiological basis of anxiety
disorders and how to effectively treat them. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

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