A generalized anxiety disorder, also called GAD, is a disorder where you constantly experience anxiety. There are specific types of phobia, where the anxiety is only part of one situation or area of life. In generalized anxiety disorder, this anxiety is present in different situations or at different occasions. Your anxiety is just more general and because of that you experience anxiety constantly. People with a generalized anxiety disorder are constantly anxious and worried.

What are the symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder?

The DSM-IV classifies people with a generalized anxiety disorder as people who are constantly worried about normal things which are part of normal daily life, which in turn cause anxiety. The person in question knows that the anxiety is exaggerated, but is unable to control it regardless.

A generalized anxiety disorder is also a disorder where many physical complaints are present. For example:

  • You get tired quickly
  • You find it difficult to focus
  • You are irritated quickly
  • You often experience muscular tension
  • You find it difficult to sleep

If 3 of the above symptoms are present for over 6 months on top of the anxiety, then we can speak of a generalized anxiety disorder.

What are possible other issues which one can have with generalized anxiety disorder?

If you suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder, you also have increased chances of developing other disorders. There disorders can be both psychological and physical.

People with a generalized anxiety disorder can experience other psychological problems except for anxiety. Depression, for example, is very common with this type of anxiety. A combination with other anxiety disorders is also very common.

The generalized anxiety disorder also causes many physical issues to occur. Here, we often see a co-morbidity with chronic disorders, like heart and vascular diseases. FUrthermore, people with generalized anxiety disorder often experience muscular ache, pressure in the chest region, they sweat more quickly and often experience heart palpitations. Having generalized anxiety disorder can also cause these physical complaints to be triggered and it increases chances of heart and vascular diseases. It is also possible to start shaking or get headaches when you suffer from generalized anxiety disorder.

These people often do not know that they might have a generalized anxiety disorder, but they do often go to the doctor with complaints which are difficult to explain. Doctors often hear complaints such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sleeping issues
  • Heart palpitations

What are the possible causes of a generalized anxiety disorder?

Just like any other type of anxiety, there often is a combination of biological and situational factors at play when speaking of a generalized anxiety disorder.

Biological vulnerability + Situational factors

Just like depression and other types of anxiety disorders, a generalized anxiety disorder is partially hereditary. So, you can have an increased chance of developing a generalized anxiety disorder when it is present in your family.

Furthermore, people with a low economic status have a larger chance of developing a generalized anxiety disorder. It also is so that experiencing major or traumatic events can increase chances of generalized anxiety disorder occurring. If you respond to such situations with anxiety, the chances increase even further that an anxiety disorder develops.

What are the possible consequences of generalized anxiety disorder?

If you suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder, chances are that you also start to experience depressed symptoms after a while. People with anxiety namely suffer a lot from this anxiety, and also feel like they have lost control over their live. The anxiety controls and decides over their lives. Furthermore, a generalized anxiety disorder can have the consequence of increased chances of experiencing illnesses.

People with a generalized anxiety disorder also often go through different medical examinations to find out where their complaints come from, before an anxiety disorder is diagnosed. This costs a lot of time and money, which can also have a negative influence. Often, social relations and performance in school/at work will also suffer from the generalized anxiety disorder.

How do I treat a generalized anxiety disorder?

There are different therapeutic techniques for treating the symptoms of anxiety and thereby decrease anxiety. These techniques are often based on behavioral and thought structuring. "15Minutes4Me.com" developed an online self-help program which guides you daily in the treating and reducing of your anxiety. it was inspired by therapeutic techniques like those mentioned before, to help you tackle your anxiety from home.

Test your anxiety symptoms here!

Would you like to know if you suffer from anxiety symptoms and how they influence your life? Then do the free anxiety test here!