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Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

What is it? | Causes | Symptoms | Risk | Treatment |

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response when faced with a threat, stressful situation or when under pressure. Stressful situations such as attending a job interview, going to a hospital or meeting deadlines make us nervous or fearful. Experiencing mild anxiety helps to accomplish challenging tasks. However, when individuals experience overwhelming fear and worry it causes significant distress and impairment in their functioning.
Anxiety is an extremely unpleasant feeling making the individual to feel unhappy, frightened and uneasy. Anxiety can affect anyone, male or female, at any age and from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Anxiety affects the body, the thoughts and emotions, and lifestyle of an individual.


What causes anxiety?

There is no one cause for anxiety disorders. Several factors can play a role

  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry
  • Can be caused by too much stress
  • Life circumstances such as death of a loved one, loss of job or business
  • Personality – people who have low self –esteem and poor coping skills may be more prone.


Bodily changes

  • Increased respiration rate
  • Dizziness
  • Dryness of mouth
  • Palpitations (feeling of heart beating faster)
  • Muscle aches
  • Excess sweating
  • Upset  stomach or diarrhea
  • Lumps in the throat (trouble in swallowing)
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Disturbed sleep or difficulty getting to sleep because of worrying
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the feet or hands

Psychological symptoms

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control
  • Constant worry about every day events and problems
  • Persistent irritability
  • Exaggerated response to minor surprises.

Diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder is made when an individual experiences one or more of the above symptoms is present for a period of at least six months.

Who is at risk?

Following are some of the factors that can make an individual vulnerable to develop anxiety disorder: individuals with low tolerance for stress, limited skills of coping or problem solving, individuals who lack support from family and friends, individuals experiencing financial pressures, problems in their relationships, life changes such as high expectations and new demands, work related stress.

How is anxiety treated

Anxiety disorders are treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy, or both.

Medications are used to control some of the physical symptoms. Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained mental health professional, to discover what caused an anxiety disorder and how to deal with its symptoms.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

CBT is useful in treating anxiety disorders. The cognitive part helps people change the thinking patterns that support fears, and the behavioral part helps people change the way they react to anxiety provoking situations.