From time to time, everyone experiences anxiety. Anxiety can serve a purpose; it’s part of the human “fight or flight” survival response and usually resolves when a stressful situation is over. But for many, anxiety can be difficult to control. Individuals may find themselves dealing with constant worry and anxiety. When a person experiences anxiety and worry more days than not for at least six months, they may have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). An estimated 5.7% of US adults experience GAD at some point during their lives.
GAD can be exhausting. It may be difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep due to excessive worry. The worry may interfere with a person’s ability to concentrate and efficiently complete tasks. Anxiety can even lead to physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, stomach aches, or other unexplained pains. Irritability can be a symptom that is not only troubling for the one suffering from GAD, but for those closest to them.
Brain biology, environmental factors and stressors may all play a role in the development of GAD.
GAD is a treatable condition. Common treatments may include cognitive behavioral therapy and / or some types of antidepressant medications. These can all take a while to work. Sedative medications are commonly used for severe anxiety and work quickly, but can cause dependence when used continually. These are best used short term. Researchers are continuing to look for treatments that work quickly without the risk of dependence.