Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects over 4 million adult Americans every year, and is a condition where the person feels extremely worried or anxious on a regular basis. Exaggerated feelings of worry or anxiety are normal in some situations, but for people who have generalized anxiety disorder or related conditions, the feelings are out of proportion with the situation at hand.
People with generalized anxiety disorder are unable to stop worrying about everyday events and situations, and may become overly concerned with money, work, school, health or their families. They spend their days in constant worry or anxiety over certain situations, and they often end up feeling worn out, depressed, sad, and cannot enjoy relationships or social activities.
There is no known root cause of generalized anxiety disorder, but doctors and researchers conjecture that there are several factors that contribute to the development of this anxiety problem. Family history often plays an important role in the development of generalized anxiety disorder. If a person’s parent were constant “worriers”, they probably grew up in an environment where fear and anxiety were part of everyday life.
Environmental factors can also be a cause of anxiety disorders. Stressful events such as abuse, divorce, moving, changing jobs or losing a loved one can trigger real fear, dread and anxiety, but this can worsen if it is left unaddressed. The person can get into the habit of feeling difficult feelings all over again whenever they are stressed, and this can perpetuate the cycle of anxiety. MedicineNet.com reports that many people turn to food, nicotine or caffeine to manage their feelings, but this often makes the situation worse.
Finally, brain chemistry may play a role in the development of generalized anxiety disorder. People who have anxiety problems typically have abnormal levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can effect the types of messages the brain is sending or receiving. This means the person may be experiencing a fear response from only a mildly stressful situation, and will start to link the mildly stressful situation to that negative experience. In reality, the brain is just sending the wrong type of message to the body, so the person perceives what is happening to them in the wrong way.
Correcting neurotransmitter imbalances is possible by eating certain foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In some extreme cases, medication or natural supplements may also be recommended. It’s important to understand that generalized anxiety disorder is quite common, and more women experience the symptoms and effects of this disorder than men.
Even though family history and environmental factors may not change, there are several ways to reduce the effects of GAD and other anxiety disorders. Making healthy food choices, getting enough rest, maintaining a regular exercise schedule, and controlling stress in a healthy way can help to reduce feelings of fear, worry and overwhelm on a regular basis. Lifestyle and behavior modification may be the best option for the millions of people suffering from daily anxiety problems, and may be necessary when generalized anxiety disorder symptoms and related anxiety problems are interfering with daily life.