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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

General Psychology

Introduction

In today's world many people are haunted by different psychological conditions that can be detrimental in leading a normal life. Some of these disorders are minor and some not so much. There are many topics that seem to be the center of psychological discussion; however, the most discussed of these "popular" disorders are depression, generalized anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and a variety of others. Out of the several mentioned, generalized anxiety disorder may be the mildest, however, it can destroy lives if not treated properly. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is often misdiagnosed and/or wrongly self diagnosed because of the symptoms look like those of many other disorders. It is a fairly new clinical condition that can be difficult to diagnose even by doctors and treat because it can be commonly mistaken by doctors as something else entirely and/or be the result of another condition. Concerning Generalized Anxiety Disorder there are some common questions that will be discussed. These questions and subjects are as follows: What is generalized anxiety disorder, the difference between generalized anxiety disorder and similar disorders, what are the criteria symptoms, what are the known causes, how is it treated, and future research directions. The goal is that after covering these subjects we will have a better understanding of this disorder.

What is generalized anxiety disorder?

The definition of anxiety according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill or a fearful concern or interest (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated , 2011). Generalized anxiety disorder is only a form of anxiety or rather standard anxiety with much more specific criteria that include long term issues and has more criteria symptoms that are associated with it. Generalized anxiety disorder has all of the symptoms of standard anxiety plus several more that categorize it as GAD. It does not let up over an extended period as mentioned above and is considered by many to much more serious than a standard form of anxiety because of the long term effects that it can have on one's mind. According to Anxiety Disorder Association of America, "Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things" (ADAA Understanding Anxiety, 2010). People that suffer from this disorder which is often referred to as GAD, typically feel on edge, tense, jittery, and often expect the worst when there is no real reason. The people that suffer from this disorder tend to anticipate disaster whether it be health, family, work or other issues. Generally people that have GAD can barely get through the day without becoming anxious about the day in and of itself. Most people that have GAD realize that they tend to worry worse than others but feel that it is beyond their control. According to ADAA, The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age (ADAA Generalized Anxiety Disorder, 2010). However, it needs to be noted that the disorder can come on at anytime in one's life and can be triggered by something dramatic or may just begin for no real apparent reason.

Difference between Generalized Anxiety Disorder and other similar Disorders

One of the most asked questions concerning GAD are; what is the difference between GAD and disorders that include anxiety as a symptom? According to (MICHAEL F. GLIATTO, 2000), the diagnosis can be challenging because the difference between normal anxiety and GAD is not always distinct and because GAD often coexists with other psychiatric disorders (e.g., major depression, dysthymia, panic disorder, substance abuse). However, one of the symptoms associated with GAD is that the worry "symptoms must be present for at least six months and must adversely affect the patient's life" (MICHAEL F. GLIATTO, 2000). Other disorders such as major depression, panic disorder, substance abuse etc... will not cause the subject to remain in a constant state of worry for the prescribed period of time. Most substance abuse withdrawals for instance may last many days or even weeks, however, the criteria states that at least six months must have passed with symptoms which will be discussed. Major depression on the other hand may be accompanied with other symptoms that should not be confused with the symptoms of GAD. Major depression symptoms include "Neurovegetative symptoms (e.g., insomnia, lack of appetite, guilt)," (MICHAEL F. GLIATTO, 2000) that GAD symptoms may not correlate with. All in all diagnosing GAD will almost always be difficult and can take many appointments and months because of the similarities it has with other disorders.

Criteria for Diagnosing Generalized Anxiety Disorder

As mentioned above one of the primary reasons that identifying GAD can be so difficult is that it usually correlates with many other problems that a person may have. However, a chart from DSM-IV helps the doctor make the proper diagnosis (Andrews, et al., Feb2010);

A. Excessive anxiety and worry for at least six months

B. The person finds it difficult to control worry

C. The anxiety and worry are associated with three or more of the following six symptoms:

a. Restlessness

b. Being easily fatigued

c. Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank

d. Irritability

e. Muscle tension

f. Sleep disturbance

D. The anxiety is not from panic disorder, social phobia, obsessive compulsive, separation anxiety, anorexia nervosa, somatization disorder, or hypochondriasis, and the worry doesn't occur during post traumatic stress disorder

E. The worry is causing significant distress or social impairment

F. The worry is not associated with a medication or other substance

If these criteria symptoms are present within the patient then a proper diagnosis can be made by the physician. As noted above, it can be very difficult and time consuming to properly diagnose this condition. The criteria symptoms chart notes all of the criteria that must be present or absent and it must be doubly noted that the patient is

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