You’re human and all people are all prone to a range of emotions – happy, sad, scared, excited. But what happens when negative emotions play a predominant role in your daily function? Have you ever felt like you were constantly worrying or “on edge”? Feelings of impending doom? Or just generally nervous? There’s a name for that, it’s called anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders and it is described as a constant or excessive feeling of worry. Of course, it’s more than just “worrying”. Some people feel emotional symptoms, such as impending doom, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating while others may experience physical symptoms like chest pain or racing heart, upset stomach, dizziness, muscle tension and fatigue.
Sometimes we don’t know exactly what causes someone’s anxiety. For example, you might feel really nervous to fly on an airplane. That’s a pretty specific trigger. In GAD, there is usually a combination of underlying genetic or biological factors in addition to environmental stresses or triggers that may cause the anxiety to develop and/or worsen. If there is a known environmental factor – high stress work environment, parenting stress, divorce – psychotherapy is important to help a person learn how to cope, handle, or even remove yourself from the situation (in a healthy manner, of course). I always tell my patients, that even the happiest healthiest people can benefit from therapy. People who engage in therapy don’t always need medication, but those that need medication then I recommend therapy 100% of the time. So, when therapy alone isn’t enough, medication may be beneficial. Medications such as SSRIs or SNRIs have been very helpful in working towards alleviating the symptoms of generalized anxiety.