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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Definition

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the most common of the anxiety disorders. People with this disorder have excessive worry and anxiety for 6 months or more.

Description

Anxiety is common and can be self-generating since the symptoms reinforce the reaction, often causing it to get worse and worse.

Causes

Initial manifestations appear before age 40. There is a slightly greater tendency for this condition to occur in women.

Symptoms

The disabling anxiety symptoms of apprehension, worry, irritability, hypervigilance (preparation for threat), insomnia, and somatic (bodily) complaints are long-lasting and persist for at least one month.

The somatic manifestations may include rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, and feeling faint.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made based on a complete medical history and physical examination as well as mental status examination. Underlying medical disorders must be ruled out, including conditions involving the heart, lungs, and endocrine glands, issues of substance abuse, and neurologic disorders.

Treatment

Treatment may involve medications (SSRIs, benzodiazepines, buspirone), behavioral approaches (desensitization to the anxiety-producing situation, relaxation techniques), group, family, or couples therapy, and peer support groups.

Questions

What treatment do you recommend?

Do you recommend medications?

What are the side-effects?

Do you recommend relaxation techniques? Support groups?