What is generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)?
People naturally feel anxious and worried from time to time, especially when faced with stressful situations like taking an exam, speaking in public or going for a job interview. This sort of anxiety can make you feel alert and focused, helping you get things done faster or perform at your best.
People with GAD, however, feel anxious and worried most of the time. Not just in specific stressful situations, and these worries are intense, persistent and interfere with their normal lives.
Worries can relate to several aspects of everyday life, including work, health, family and/or financial issues, rather than just one issue. Even minor things such as household chores or being late for an appointment can become the focus of anxiety, leading to uncontrollable worries.
What are the signs and symptoms of GAD?
You may have GAD if the specific signs and symptoms are present for six months or more, and on more days than not. These include physical symptoms as well excessive worrying to the point that everyday activities like working, studying or socialising, become difficult.
For six months or more, on more days than not, have you:
- felt very worried about a number of events or activities
- found it hard to stop worrying
- found that your anxiety made it difficult for you to do everyday activities (e.g. work, study, seeing friends and family)?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, have you also experienced three or more of the following:
- felt restless or on edge
- felt easily tired
- had difficulty concentrating
- felt irritable
- had muscle tension (e.g. sore jaw or back)
- had trouble sleeping (e.g. difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep)?
If you have answered yes, you may be experiencing generalised anxiety disorder.
How common is GAD and who experiences it?
Every year in Australia, approximately 14 percent of the population (1 in 7) experience an anxiety condition and it is estimated that just under 3 percent experience GAD. Nearly 6 percent of the population will experience GAD in their lifetime.1
The condition tends to affect more women than men. It can occur at any time in life and is common in all age groups, including children and older people, although on average it starts around 30 years of age.
Many people with GAD are not able to identify the precise onset of their concerns. But the tendency to worry has existed for a long time.
What causes GAD?
Often, a combination of factors may be involved in the development of GAD.
- Biological factors: Some changes in brain functioning have been associated with GAD.
- Family history: People with GAD often have a history of mental health problems in their family. This doesn’t mean that a person will automatically develop anxiety..
- Stressful life events: People may be more at risk if they experience a major life change that causes stress, such as the birth of a child, the breakdown/loss of a close relationship, or moving house/job.
- Psychological factors: Some personality traits may put you at greater risk of GAD, including − being sensitive − being emotional or experiencing general nervousness − inability to tolerate frustration − feeling inhibited − having perfectionistic tendencies.
What treatment is available for GAD?
Conventional medicine and Naturopathy both agree on the importance of speaking with a professional such as a psychologist or counselor. Conventional medicine may also look at using certain medications in some instances.
As a Naturopath, we focus on the diet and lifestyle and also used well researched herbal medicines and nutrients. There is a large body of evidence supporting the efficacy of certain herbals and nutritionals to alleviate GAD. If you want to read more about how the herb Passionflower can help, click here.
If you are feeling anxious and not yourself, if you have questions regarding Naturopathy and anxiety, contact me here.
Article content sourced from Beyond Blue 16/07/2018 – https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/gad