Worry and fear are normal, sometimes healthy, parts of life. However unpleasant, we can all expect to fret over aspects of our lives from time to time. However, if these feelings interfere with your ability to live your normal life, an anxiety disorder may be to blame.
People with anxiety disorders experience intense, debilitating fear. Sometimes the fear has a known cause, but not always. Anxiety can be chronic or acute, depending on the type of disorder.
Anxiety disorder is unfortunately common in the United States. Approximately 18 percent of adults in the country will live with an anxiety disorder each year. That amounts to 40 million adults, and children can also develop anxiety disorders.
Sadly, only a fraction of the people who live with anxiety disorders seek out the help they deserve. We believe that increasing awareness about anxiety and available treatments will help people find important resources.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is a chronic anxiety disorder and one of the most common types of anxiety. People with GAD experience symptoms of anxiety most days for at least six months. This lengthened timeline distinguishes GAD from short-term worries and anxiety.
The severity of GAD symptoms can vary from mild to severe. People with the most severe symptoms are so fearful that they are unable to get through a typical day and complete daily tasks. People with milder versions of GAD are able to get through a day, but it requires a lot of effort.
These patients carry anxiety symptoms inside and may break down when they are alone. No matter the severity of a person’s symptoms, all people with GAD deserve compassionate care and can benefit from seeing mental health care professionals.
Symptoms of GAD
People with GAD can experience both mental and physical symptoms. Furthermore, people with GAD can have different symptoms from others with the same disorder. If you have many of the symptoms listed below, you may need to be evaluated for GAD:
Mental and Emotional Symptoms of GAD
- Consistent or overwhelming sense of dread
- Repeating specific phrases (also called “perseveration”)
- On edge or high alert often
- Disordered sleeping habits
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble making decisions
- Easily startled
- Frequent trembling
- Aches and tension in the muscles
- Digestive issues
- Sweating more than usual
- High heart rate
Acute Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are acute bouts of anxiety. The symptoms are often similar to GAD–increased heart rate, feeling of dread, trembling, and sweating. However, the timelines and intensity are different.
While GAD lasts for months or years, panic attacks last for just minutes or hours at a time. Typically, someone who is having a panic attack is completely unable to do anything else. Someone having a panic attack while driving, for example, will need to pull over. Panic attacks can even cause a temporary lack of vision and trouble walking or moving.
People with GAD can have panic attacks when their symptoms ramp up for short periods of time. However, some people have panic attacks with no other anxiety disorders. Some people have one panic attack in their lives and never have one again. Others may experience several panic attacks throughout their lives.
Treatment Options for Anxiety
Unfortunately, there is no single cure for anxiety disorders. However, many effective treatment options allow people with anxiety disorders to live healthy, fulfilled lives. Generally, there are three types of treatments:
- Lifestyle Changes
Someone with anxiety may need one or more of these treatments in order to see a reduction in symptoms. Medication options include fast-acting medicines that can stop a panic attack and long-term medications for GAD. Therapy may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness.
Lifestyle changes that can help with anxiety can include decreasing stressors, regular exercise, and meditation. If you or a loved one struggles with symptoms of anxiety, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our compassionate team of providers can help you find the right combination of treatments.