Generalized Anxiety Disorder

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD? 

Although it is normal to feel anxious or worried occasionally, excessive and uncontrollable worry that interferes with everyday events and activities may be characterized as GAD. From worrying about the next day's events to the inability to concentrate on the present, the overthinking about possible future negative outcomes never seems to end. GAD can have a significant impact on a person’s life, but with proper treatment and support, it is very possible to manage symptoms and feel better. GAD is one of the most common anxiety disorders and affects 3.1% of the adult population so if any of this is familiar, you are not alone. 

When does anxiety become a disorder?

Anxiety that is irrational, exaggerated and interferes with someone's ability to function in everyday life is typically labeled as a disorder. While hearing the word “disorder” may sound frightening, it can be helpful to be able to place a cluster of symptoms within a category so that the best possible approach to managing those symptoms can be identified. A person may be diagnosed with GAD if they have difficulty controlling their anxiety, and their anxiety and worry have been consistently present most days over a period of 6 months. The good news is that there are some very effective treatment options for anxiety disorders, including for GAD.  

What are the symptoms of GAD?

Although GAD looks slightly different for everyone and includes a range of emotional, physical, and cognitive symptoms that can fluctuate in intensity over time. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Continuous worry about various aspects of life that is out of proportion to their impact

  • Persistent overthinking, imagining worst-case scenarios, and perceiving events as threatening when they are not

  • Indecisiveness

  • Difficulty concentrating 

  • Avoiding situations that may trigger anxiety

  • Irritability

  • Restlessness, inability to relax or let go 

  • Fatigue, trouble sleeping 

  • Muscle tension, headaches, trembling

What causes GAD?

Though the exact cause of GAD is not fully understood, it involves a unique combination of different biological, environmental, and psychological factors. This includes things like genetics, exposure to stressors such as traumatic events, and specific personality traits. Even if we were able to pinpoint the specific cause, it would not necessarily lead to relief of symptoms. The same treatments are effective, regardless of the cause. 

How can I get help for GAD?

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is one of the most common and helpful treatments for GAD. CBT is an evidence-based treatment that helps individuals challenge thought patterns and learn coping strategies for managing anxiety. It is flexible, adaptive and tailored to each person's specific needs and symptoms. Certain types of medication may also be used as a form of treatment, but CBT has been found to be just as effective and more enduring. At Connect Cognitive Therapy, we have clinicians who are highly-skilled in techniques such as CBT and committed to a personal approach to meet individual needs and help you maximize your overall well-being. GAD can be a struggle at times, but we are here to help you manage it with understanding and expertise. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information, or visit our online booking site to book your first appointment!