Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Physical symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder include acute or chronic fatigue; headaches, muscle tension or spasms, stiffness, general aches and pains, abdominal difficulties, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing or feeling like there is something stuck in their throat, trembling, nausea, uncontrollable twitching, hot/cold flashes, sweating, lightheadedness, sleep disturbances, dry mouth and dizziness. People with GAD seek medical help for their physical symptoms frequently.
Additional symptoms include irritability, frustration, and inability to concentrate. Sleep disturbances are also common. The individual feels constantly on alert, startles easily, and is unable to relax. Feelings of a lack of energy, a loss of interest in life, and persistent joylessness occur frequently. A person with GAD may need to be constantly in motion. Generalized anxiety disorder often co-occurs with mood disorders. Many people with GAD seek relief in harmful ways: overeating, cigarette smoking, or using alcohol and drugs.
GAD is not associated with panic attacks, however people who do have panic attacks may also have generalized anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Self Test
The National Center for Health and Wellness has developed a self assessment test to determine if you are at risk for, or are currently suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder.
1. Have you experienced an unusually excessive level of worry about various aspects of life lately?
2. Do you find yourself feeling overly restless or edgy?
3. Lately, do you find yourself more easily angered or irritated by events that would normally be minimally annoying?
4. Even when you’re aware that the worry is needless, do you still find yourself feeling anxious?
5. Do you find it unusually difficult to concentrate or stay focused?
6. Do you find yourself getting tired easily, even after activities that are minimally taxing?
7. Do you use cocaine, alcohol, amphetamines, or marijuana on a regular basis?
8. Have you been experiencing sleep problems lately such as difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, tossing and turning, or waking feeling tired?
9. Have you been getting into arguments often with family and friends?
10. Does your excessive worry revolve around any of the following specifically: gaining weight, having a physical disease, being separated from a loved one, or being involved in social engagements?
11. Do you experience any number of the following to the level that it impairs your ability to function or perform regular daily activities: restlessness, irritability, sleep difficulty, fatigue, trouble concentrating?
12. Do you feel unable to relax, even when nothing really stressful is happening?
13. Have you also been experiencing feelings of sadness or emptiness alongside the tension and worry?
14. Have you been experiencing physical symptoms of tension such as chronic upset stomach, agitation, or inability to sit still?
15. Has your excessive worry stayed relatively constant for the last 6 months or longer?
If you’ve answered “Yes” to more than a few questions, and if you have experienced symptoms of excessive worrying for six months or more you probably have a generalized anxiety disorder.
Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Relentless worrying can affect your daily life so much that it interferes with your lifestyle, health, relationships, sleep, and job performance. Remember, generalized anxiety disorder is treatable; it can be successfully overcome. If you believe you may have symptoms of GAD, make an appointment with your primary care physician. GAD symptoms do occur in some medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism and a heart condition called mitral valve prolapse. Or your symptoms may indicate another anxiety or mood disorder.
GAD symptoms cannot be overcome by sheer willpower. There are several treatment choices available; medication, psychotherapy, or the combination of both.