Feeling Anxious?


There are many reasons why people experience fear. It is normal to be frightened when an individual is exposed to danger or an imminent threat; it is a defense mechanism for survival. Fear allows us to respond quickly to adverse situations, and at some point, it may even save our lives.

However, there are instances in which an individual experiences intense fear and does not know why. For no apparent reason, the person emerges in a state of dread. When this happens, a mental health professional may suspect that the person is suffering of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This disorder can be found in both children and adult patients, and most people who claim to have this disorder say that they have been feeling anxious as far back as they can remember. For many this is a constant state of worry and fear that is disproportionate to their situations. Statistics show that GAD is more common in women than in men.

The main symptom of this disorder is the presence of excessive worry, even when there is no reason or cause. Everybody has problems and/or challenges: work, money, health, relationships, family situations, etc., but for the person suffering from GAD, these problems are usually intensified and appear to have no solution. These feelings of fear may be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as headaches, muscle tension, and difficulty swallowing.

Although the exact causes of GAD are still unknown, experts believe it is caused by the combination of biological factors and life experiences. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) states that GAD is very often associated with excessive worry (apprehensive expectation), and the patient often finds it impossible to control this constant state of worry.

Anxiety and worry are associated with three or more of the following symptoms:

• Nervousness, restlessness, or impatience;

• Fatigue (tiredness);

• Difficulty concentrating or the mind going blank;

• Irritability;

• Muscle tension, tremor, headache, leg movement, and inability to relax;

• Sleep disturbance: difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking feeling as if you have not slept well; and

• Sweating, palpitations, or tachycardia; gastrointestinal problems; dry mouth; dizziness; or hyperventilation (increase in the number of breaths per minute).

There are treatments that can help the patients reduce the symptoms and live healthier lives, including talk therapy and medication. In most states, medication can only be prescribed by your medical doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or a psychiatrist. If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder or other emotional problems, consult a mental health provider in your area today.

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