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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Learn more about generalized anxiety disorder and how to recognize its symptoms. This syndrome is increasingly noticed in youth and women in particular.

Anxiety disorders are common phenomena among adults, with over 4 million American adults affected by this disorder every year. Fear and anxiety engulfs the mind and often this disorder at times lasts for more than 6 months. Any kind of anxiety disorder requires proper treatment and if left untreated can worsen.

There are five major anxiety disorders; generalized anxiety disorder being one among them. Studies point out that women and youth are more prone to this disorder as compared to men.

Generalized anxiety disorder

Any kind of prolonged psychological or physical sickness can lead to anxiety disorders. The person spends a day packed with needless fears and anxiety with major reason to instigate it. Everything looms large, right from family relationships, finances to job environment.

People suffering from this disorder are tense or keep musing over things and this situation is diagnosed as general anxiety disorder if it continues for six months or more. This hampers day-to-day activities and results in mood swings that are totally unpredictable and at times disastrous.

Factors contributing to generalized anxiety disorder

There are various reasons to get excited but generalized anxiety disorder is caused when the

  • Levels of the neurotransmitters are unequal. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals across nerve ends.

  • Norepinephrine, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and serotonin are the neurotransmitters that govern anxiety.

  • Substantial changes in the levels of these neurotransmitters cause anxiety levels to differ.

  • Alcohol abuse and substance abuse are major culprits when it comes to anxiety disorders and need to be treated first before treating anxiety disorders.

  • Thyroid disorder such as hyperthyroidism can cause this disorder.

There are other factors contributing to the anxiety disorder such as environmental factors and biological factors.

  • Heredity is a major reason for anxiety disorders.

  • Environmental stress factors such as work, relationships etc.

  • Irregular sleep patterns, either lack of sleep of deficiency of sleep.

  • Financial concerns and health concerns

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms


  • Fatigue becomes a daily phenomenon.

  • Headaches are severe and people complain of headaches more often than before.

  • Feeling of lack of breath, queasiness and frequent visits to the bathroom.

  • Muscles are unable to relax and thus get tensed and sore and ache very often.

  • They are tremulous and develop spasms quite often.

  • Complain of chest pain very often and are found gritting their teeth regularly.

  • Excessive sweating, dizziness and dry mouth.


  • People find it difficult to fall asleep and if they do so can't sleep for long.

  • Cannot calm down and tend to get anxious for trivial issues.

  • People have the feeling that they are sick almost always and call on the doctor very regularly.

  • Feeling of trepidation and inability to relax

Behavioral characteristic

  • Difficulty in concentration

  • Petulance towards all.

  • Easily get distressed and shocked.

Treatment for generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is treated as like other anxiety disorders, treatment usually varies from person to person depending on the intensity of disorder.

  • Medicines such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, are prescribed.

  • Psychotherapy of a particular kind is suggested.

  • Psychotherapy can be carried out by either the doctor who is a qualified psychiatrist or team of psychologists.

  • Social workers and health workers such as counselors can also provide the treatment.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the preferred psychotherapy treatment given for anxiety disorders.

  • People are given suggestions on how to overcome their anxieties and worries by altering their thoughts towards all aspects of life.

  • Family members play a major role, they have to spend more time with the person reassuring that everything is all right.

Children and generalized anxiety disorder

Children are likely targets of this anxiety disorder when they develop feelings owing to accountability for a particular situation and start worrying about their future and family issues. Family members must be supportive to the child and reassure that things are all right and that it will fall in place if it is not so.

For e.g. if the child has not performed well in exams, the child may worry as to how the parents will react to the situation. Then the parents have to provide reassurance that the child will be able to perform better and that they have the confidence in the child. They should help eliminate the fright and fear in the child.

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