Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can be described as worrying excessively about a variety of topics on a daily basis, causing an individual's quality of life to diminish, meaning when someone worries to the point of where basic daily decisions are affected and basic needs are not being met.

Symptoms include but are not limited to: restlessness, difficulty concentrating, extreme fatigue, irritability, impatience, being easily distracted, trouble falling or staying asleep, excessive sweating or hot flashes, shortness of breath, headache, stomachache, becoming light-headed. GAD diagnosis is given when the symptoms are present every day for a period of at least six months.

Causes of GAD are based on the individuals' life experiences, such as traumatic events that occurred during childhood, serious illness, and stressful life experiences. Anxiety may be an inherent part of the person's personality, such as developing anxiety by being associated with others who have anxiety.

Medications and medical conditions can also be a cause for anxiety. Some medications can cause a decrease in brain chemicals such as serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), norepinephrine, and dopamine, chemicals that boost a person's mood. An overly sensitive amaygdala, a small structure in the brain that that processes memories and emotions is another cause for anxiety. When the amaygdala is overly sensitive this causes the individual to react to situations or events as threatening when they are actually not threatening at all.

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