Generalized Anxiety Disorders

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Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States and affect 40 million adults. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable and yet only one-third of those suffering receive treatment. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the population. Women are twice as likely as men to have anxiety. One in eight people have an anxiety disorder on any given year and one in four people have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. 50% of those with anxiety disorder meet the criteria for another anxiety disorder. 75% of those with anxiety disorder meet criteria for another psychological disorder.

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can include excessive anxiety and worry for at least 50% of one’s days. This worry can include things like family, health, finances, work, or school. The person usually finds it hard to control the worry and the worry is sustained for at least 3 months. The anxiety and worry are associated with restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge. A person can also become easily fatigued or have difficulty concentrating because of the anxiety. Irritability, muscle tension, or sleep disturbances can also be symptoms of GAD as well.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to effectively treat GAD. The cognitive component helps people identify and question the patterns of their thinking that can cause or trigger the feelings of anxiety. CBT can also help those who suffer from GAD question the validity of negative and automatic thoughts. The behavioral component consists of exposure and desensitization and together with the therapists those with GAD built up exposure and tolerance to anxiety-provoking situations.