Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): What is it and how to treat it?

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GAD is a debilitating mental disorder that affects about 6.8 million adults in the U.S., or 3.1% of the population, every year.

The symptoms are different for everyone with GAD, but can most often be characterized by chronic worry and excessive anxiety about everyday life events, to the point where it interferes with one’s ability to function on a daily basis.

One way to treat GAD is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing thoughts into more realistic ones and overcoming negative thought patterns that might cause someone to become anxious or depressed over time.

In this post, we will take a look at what generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is all about, how it can affect you, and how to treat it with a professional or at home.

What is generalized anxiety disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the mental health conditions that can be acquired by events and experiences in childhood and adulthood.

Generalized anxiety disorders, like many mental health conditions, are characterized by symptoms of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. According to Mental Health America consider generalized Anxiety Disorder is a chronic illness that lasts for approximately six months or more of excessive worry and tension. It is often that generalized anxiety disorder can worsen anxiety.

Symptoms of GAD include:

  • Physical symptoms like muscle aches and muscle tension
  • Worry excessively
  • Body shakes and tremours

These are just the most common symptoms. However, the symptoms of GAD can be more serious and vary from restlessness, lack of focus and trouble concentrating, chest pains, and sleep problems.

You can learn more about the different anxiety disorders here.

What causes GAD?

GAD can be caused by a number of things like stressful events, family members, addictive substances, and catastrophic events.

GAD begins gradually over a few weeks due to environmental factors. It can occur specifically after a particular event or an experience. Your brain chemistry changes making you feel anxious. Be sure to speak to medical health professionals if you start to develop panic attacks or any symptoms related to a mental health illness.

Generalized anxiety disorder requires attention from a mental health professional or a doctor so it can be treated before it becomes any more serious.

In general, mental disorders can lead to physical symptoms like tiredness, sleepiness, trembling, and shaking as well as stomach aches. Some people who suffer from more severe anxiety disorders can become nauseous, weak at knees, and experience constipation or diarrhea.

How is GAD diagnosed?

Generally speaking, depression and anxiety as well as mental illnesses are treated at a mental clinic. It will follow comprehensive evaluation by clinicians or a mental health specialist.

In an assessment, parents must discuss their child’s anxiety. You are also asked to give some background information about your child’s family history, medical history, social life, and social interactions.

Sometimes parents or children use questionnaires for clarification of the diagnosis.

How to treat generalized anxiety disorder?

GAD can have a major impact on your daily life but several treatments are available to help alleviate your symptoms. With treatments, a variety of individuals can control their anxiety levels. Some of those medications can have an immediate effect for a long period of time

You can develop GAD and any other related disorders at any point in life, but it can be caused by numerous things like biological factors, and other catastrophic events not mentioned above. Treatment decisions are based on how significantly generalized anxiety disorder negatively affects your ability to function in your everyday life.

Psychotherapy and medicine are the main treatment tools for anxiety disorders. You can benefit most when you combine both.

GAD can be treated with:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Lifestyle changes and habits
  • Healthy diet
  • Joining a support group

Relaxation techniques

To ease anxiety and its symptoms, you need to relax and take control of your breath to regulate your heartbeat as well as any hormones that have been released in response to the situation or experience.

So, start off by taking deep breaths, holding at the exhalation, and releasing your breath in a slow and controlled manner. Make sure to count to 5 seconds in your head throughout the exhalation. Do this for 2-5 minutes. This will ease anxiety almost immediately.

Lifestyle changes and habits

Everyday circumstances can cause significant distress. This can onset anxiety and GAD symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to improve your environmental factors.

Take a holistic view of your current life, ad identify the exact cause of your mental illness. Speak to family members or mental health professionals who can advise you on the steps you can take.

There may be solutions that you haven’t thought about which can help with your anxiety disorder.

Healthy diet

Another way to treat generalized anxiety disorder is by improving your eating.

You see, everything you consume has an effect on your mental health. You could be stacking up on snacks and eating sugary, salty, or high in saturated fats foods.

These will affect your gut microbiome and affect your brain as well as the way you think.

With proper nutrition, you are likely to avoid any nutritional deficiencies as well as any gut problems that can impact your cognitive thinking.

A healthy diet consists of a balance between proteins, carbohydrates, and fats which provide a different set of vitamins and minerals. These nutrients help your body function properly and improve your mental health. You can learn more about a healthy diet here.

Speaking to a professional and joining a support group

Another way to treat generalized anxiety disorder is by speaking to a mental health professional or joining a support group. A doctor or a specialist can refer you to a group, you don’t have to find them yourself.

If, on the other hand, you are would prefer to do something more anonymous, you can join an online program. A program that has been developed by a qualified professional can help you understand things better. With techniques and strategies, you can put your experiences behind you.

Check out the ‘I’m Okay, You’re Okay’ online program developed by a qualified health coach who helps people overcome traumatic experiences.

When should I get help for anxiety?

Feelings of stress are completely normal at certain times. Check your GP if your anxiety affects your daily life or causes you difficulty.

Your doctor may ask about your symptoms and questions about any concerns, worries, or emotional turmoil in case you think you have GAD.


Conclusion paragraph: The information provided in this post should help you better understand Generalized Anxiety Disorder and how it can be treated. If you or someone close to you has been feeling anxious for a long time, we encourage you to seek professional assistance from your physician or mental health specialist.

We hope these suggestions will make dealing with the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder easier!

Be sure to get help. Check out the Nutrition2change health and fitness courses.

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