Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
It is basic human nature to experience stress and worry in life, particularly during life’s unexpected times and changes. Anxiety and worry are a natural part of life, even for a totally healthy person. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) describes the kind of persistent, ongoing anxiety and worry which interfere with an individual’s quality of life. What’s abnormal is a debilitating intensity of the anxiety. Daily activities, personal relationships, and work life are highly affected by generalized anxiety disorder, as the patient feels incapable of controlling their symptoms of excessive worry. GAD can be experienced as a child or adult, though the symptoms do differ depending on the age of the patient.
More specifically, the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include behaviors that are out of proportion to what is real. Someone with GAD experiences ongoing anxiety about things that don’t ultimately have a big impact on their lives. They overthink basic things and anticipate the worst case scenario in a way that amplifies their anxiety. Those with generalized anxiety disorder face challenging indecisiveness, and an inability to let go of their worries and relax. Because they cannot relax, they have the feeling of constantly being on edge which leads to irritability and unstable emotions. These feelings manifest physically in a number of ways, including fatigue, poor sleep, physical tension, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, headaches, and mood instability. Usually, generalized anxiety disorder shows up with other mental health conditions. Commonly, generalized anxiety disorder occurs with various phobias, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, and substance abuse.
Generalized anxiety disorder affects approximately 3% of the population, and women are twice as likely to experience GAD. This condition doesn’t have a specific cause, but has been linked to certain personality types — those who are naturally timid, negative, or risk-averse. It is possible that GAD is linked to genetics, but is more likely related to a person’s life experiences. Those with generalized anxiety may have experienced big life changes, a trauma, or other negative life events.
Living with generalized anxiety untreated can create an unpleasant lifestyle that is difficult to sustain. More than anything, anxiety takes the energy and attention that an individual would want to put on productive tasks, like work or social life. GAD highly affects an individual’s ability to concentrate and think clearly, which is frustrating for any functioning adult. The lifestyle of generalized anxiety understandably makes an individual more at risk of depression, as they lose hope over their symptoms. Our modern stress lifestyle often normalizes anxiety, summing up the symptoms as someone just feeling stressed out. But it’s important to recognize that it’s possible to live a life without anxiety! Patients are often incredibly relieved at the possibility that their life can be worriless and even peaceful.
Generalized anxiety disorder can be treated with the right interpersonal therapy, with modalities such as CBT, ACT, and DBT. Colorado CBT provides treatment for those struggling with generalized anxiety disorder. Our clinic is a leading Denver resource for anxiety conditions. We hope to support you on your treatment journey soon, simply make an appointment!