Anxiety

Anxiety:

It's normal to feel anxious from time to time, especially if your life is stressful. However, anxiety and worry that are difficult to control and interfere with daily activities may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder.

It's possible to develop generalized anxiety disorder as a child or an adult. Generalized anxiety disorder has symptoms that are similar to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other types of anxiety, but they're all different conditions.

Living with generalized anxiety disorder can be a challenge. Often it occurs with other anxiety or mood disorders. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder improves with psychotherapy and/or medications. Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques can help.

Symptoms

Physical signs and symptoms may include:

Nervousness or being easily startled

There may be times when your worries don't completely consume you, but you still feel anxious even when there's no apparent reason. For example, you may feel intense worry about your safety or that of your loved ones, or that something bad is about to happen.

Your anxiety or physical symptoms cause you significant distress in your personal or work life. Worries can shift from one concern to another and may change with time and age.

Causes

As with many mental health conditions, the cause of generalized anxiety disorder likely arises from a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors, which may include:

Risk factors

The following factors may increase the risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder:

Experiences. People with generalized anxiety disorder may have a history of significant life changes, traumatic or negative experiences during childhood, or a recent traumatic or negative event. Chronic medical illnesses or other mental health disorders may increase risk.

Complications

Having generalized anxiety disorder can be disabling. It can:

Generalized anxiety disorder can lead to or worsen physical health conditions, such as:

Generalized anxiety disorder often occurs with other mental health problems, which can make diagnosis and treatment more challenging. Some mental health disorders that commonly occur with generalized anxiety disorder include:

Prevention

There's no way to predict what will cause someone to develop generalized anxiety disorder You can take steps to reduce the symptoms if you experience anxiety:

Diagnosis

To help diagnose generalized anxiety disorder, your doctor or mental health professional may:

Treatment

Treatment decisions are based on how significant generalized anxiety disorder affected your life. The two main treatments for generalized anxiety disorder are psychotherapy and medications. You may benefit most from a combination of the two. It may take some trial and error to discover which treatments work best for you.

Psychotherapy

Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective form of psychotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on teaching you specific skills to directly manage your worries and help you gradually return to the activities you've avoided because of anxiety. Through this process, your symptoms improve as you build on your initial success.

Medications

Several types of medications are used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, including those below. Talk with your doctor about benefits, risks and possible side effects.

Lifestyle and home remedies

While most people with anxiety disorders need psychotherapy or medications to get anxiety under control, lifestyle changes also can make a difference. Here's what you can do:

Author
Michael Nunez, M.D. Dr. Michael Nunez is a primary care physician who treats patients living in the Scottsdale, Arizona area. Dr. Nunez attended the University of Arizona where he earned both his Bachelor's degree as well as his doctorate. He received his Board Certification through the American Board of Family Medicine. The doctor is an Arizona native who takes pride in working with the people of his community. The doctor began practicing medicine in 1998. In 2001, he opened Grayhawk Medical Group, PLLC, to better serve the area residents. Dr. Nunez continues to expand his education so he can better serve his patients in all aspects of treatment.

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