Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Anxiety can fill you with worry and fear. Sometimes anxiety is healthy. It alerts you to a potential threat and prompts you to respond and take action. But, for some people, anxiety gets so bad it causes problems in daily life. If you find yourself in a constant state of anxiety, you may have an anxiety disorder called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Speak with your doctor or mental health professional to learn more. He or she can help. 

Woman sitting on floor on telephone looking distraught.

What is generalized anxiety disorder?

With GAD, you might worry about money, your family and friends, work, or the world in general. You might not even be sure what you're anxious about. Whatever it is, though, you have an intense fear that the worst will happen. These feelings never really go away. This constant worry affects your quality of life and makes it hard to function. GAD can cause physical symptoms, too.

What are common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder?

People with GAD often think they have a physical illness. The disorder can cause symptoms, such as:

  • Muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders.

  • Nausea and stomach problems.

  • Frequent headaches.

  • Feeling lightheaded.

  • Restlessness, trouble sleeping.

  • Feeling irritable and on edge all the time.

How can generalized anxiety disorder be treated?

GAD can be treated with medicine or therapy, or both. Medicine helps to reduce symptoms, so you can continue with your daily routine. Therapy helps you understand the cause of your anxiety and learn how to manage it. Both forms of treatment help you deal with obstacles that anxiety causes in your life, so you can be healthier and happier.

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