Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is a condition characterized by chronic anxiety, worry, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. Symptoms include trembling, headaches, and irritability. Treatment includes medications and cognitive behavioral therapy. In many cases, this disorder is accompanied by other problems, such as depression or substance abuse, so treatment is needed for these conditions as well.
"I always thought I was just a worrier. I'd feel keyed up and unable to relax. At times it would come and go, and at times it would be constant. It could go on for days. I'd worry about what I was going to fix for a dinner party or what would be a great present for somebody. I just couldn't let something go.
"I'd have terrible sleeping problems. There were times I'd wake up wired in the middle of the night. I had trouble concentrating, even reading the newspaper or a novel. Sometimes I'd feel a little lightheaded. My heart would race or pound. And that would make me worry more. I was always imagining things were worse than they really were: When I got a stomachache, I'd think it was an ulcer.
"When my problems were at their worst, I'd miss work and feel just terrible about it. Then I worried that I'd lose my job. My life was miserable until I got treatment."
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is much more than the normal anxiety people experience day to day. It's chronic and fills one's day with exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to provoke it. Having this disorder means always anticipating disaster, often worrying excessively about health, money, family, or work. Sometimes, however, the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint. Simply the thought of getting through the day provokes anxiety.