Causes and General Signs of Anxiety
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is defined as constant, exaggerated worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday, routine life events and activities. These thoughts must last at least six months to be classified as generalized anxiety disorder. People with this condition almost always anticipate the worst, even though there is little reason to expect it. These feelings are accompanied by physical symptoms, such as:
- Muscle tension
Scientists aren't quite sure why some people get anxiety disorders. Different people exposed to the same situation can react in very different ways. Part of this difference may be in the genes they have inherited.
Anxiety disorders run in families, so if a parent has an anxiety disorder, the children have a higher chance of developing one of these conditions. This may be due to the genes they've inherited, but the environment a child is raised in may be important, too. Ultimately, it's probably an interaction between a person's genetic predisposition and environment.
Scientists have recently been gaining insights into the development of anxiety disorders. Children of parents with panic disorders have a higher incidence of behavioral disorders very early in life, before you would think major environmental impacts would occur.
A growing body of evidence shows that infants who tend to be shy, timid, and constrained in social situations -- even in the first few weeks of life -- have higher rates of anxiety disorders when they get older.
Symptoms of anxiety can differ based on the specific anxiety disorder a person has. However, all anxiety disorders are linked together by common symptoms that include excessive, irrational fear and dread. Because these are also possible symptoms of other conditions, people who believe they have anxiety symptoms are encouraged to see a doctor for proper diagnosis.
(Click Anxiety Symptoms for a more detailed list of possible symptoms.)