generalized anxiety disorder 2010

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Classification: Anxiety Disorder Definition: Excessive uncontrollable anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance). ­1

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to provoke it. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety.

When their anxiety level is mild, people with GAD can function socially and hold down a job. Although they don’t avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder, people with GAD can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities if their anxiety is severe.

GAD affects about 6.8 million American adults, including twice as many women as men. The disorder develops gradually and can begin at any point in the life cycle, although the years of highest risk are between childhood and middle age. There is evidence that genes play a modest role in GAD.2

Complete list of symptoms:
  1. Excessive, ongoing worry and tension
  2. An unrealistic view of problems
  3. Restlessness or a feeling of being "edgy"
  4. Irritability
  5. Muscle tension
  6. Headaches
  7. Sweating
  8. Difficulty concentrating
  9. Nausea
  10. The need to go to the bathroom frequently
  11. Tiredness
  12. Trouble falling or staying asleep
  13. Trembling
  14. Being easily startled 3

Known causes:
Some research suggests that GAD may run in families, and it may also grow worse during stress.

In some of the patients, cessation of their anxiety symptoms corresponded with stopping the use of the benzodiazepine or alcohol.
Generalized anxiety disorder has been linked to disrupted functional connectivity of the amygdala and its processing of fear and anxiety. Sensory information enters the amgydala through the nuclei of the basolateral complex (consisting of lateral, basal, and accessory basal nuclei). The basolateral complex processes sensory related fear memories and communicate their threat importance to memory and sensory processing elsewhere in the brain such as the medial prefrontal cortex and sensory cortices.4

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): It is a psychological method of treatment for GAD, which involves a therapist working with the patient to understand how thoughts and feelings influence behavior.4
SSRIs: Pharmaceutical treatments for GAD include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain. This leaves more serotonin available in the brain. Increased serotonin enhances neurotransmission — the sending of nerve impulses — and improves mood.5
Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are generally only used for relieving acute anxiety on a short-term basis. They can be habit forming and can cause a number of side effects, including drowsiness, reduced muscle coordination and problems with balance and memory.6

Case Study:
“I always thought I was just a worrier. I’d feel keyed up and unable to relax. At times it would come and go, and at times it would be constant. It could go on for days. I’d worry about what I was going to fix for a dinner party, or what would be a great present for somebody. I just couldn’t let something go.”
When my problems were at their worst, I’d miss work and feel just terrible about it. Then I worried that I’d lose my job. My life was miserable until I got treatment.
“I’d have terrible sleeping problems. There were times I’d wake up wired in the middle of the night. I had trouble concentrating, even reading the newspaper or a novel. Sometimes I’d feel a little lightheaded. My heart would race or pound. And that would make me worry more. I was always imagining things were worse than they really were. When I got a stomachache, I’d think it was an ulcer.”7

Related Disorders:
1. Anxiety disorder
2. Social anxiety disorder
3. Clinical depression


8 generalized anxiety disorder 2010 - The Neuron9Pathway of Anxiety Disorder10 generalized anxiety disorder 2010 - The Neuron11

1: BehaveNet® Clinical Capsule™: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. (n.d.). BehaveNet®. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from 2: NIMH · Anxiety Disorders. (n.d.). NIMH · Home. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
3: Learn More About General Anxiety Disorder. (n.d.). WebMD - Better information. Better health.. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
4: Generalized anxiety disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from 5: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - (n.d.). Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living - Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
6: Generalized anxiety disorder: Treatments and drugs - (n.d.). Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living - Retrieved March 18, 2010, from
7: NIMH · Anxiety Disorders. (n.d.). NIMH · Home. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from

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