What Is GAD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder?
Gad ( Generalised Anxiety Disorder ) is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situation and issues, rather than one specific event.
it is thought to affect 5% of the UK population and is more common in people aged between 35 and 59.
When Should You See Your GP?
If you have GAD you will feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time you felt relaxed. You will have a variety of symptoms which may include feeling worried, a sense of dread, having trouble concentrating and /or sleeping, dizziness or heart palpitations. If these symptoms are affecting your daily life or causing you distress you should arrange a visit to your GP.
What Causes GAD?
The exact cause of GAD isn’t fully understood but is likely to be a combination of several factors. Research has suggested this may include:
- Overactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behavior.
- An imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline which are involved in the control of mood.
- The genes that are inherited from traumatic experiences
- A history of a painful long-term health condition like arthritis
- A history of drug or alcohol abuse
But many people develop GAD for no apparent reason.
What treatments are available For GAD?
1) Anxiety Self Help
At first, your GP may suggest trying a self-help course for a month or two to see if you can learn to cope with your anxiety. This usually involves working from a book or computer programme on your own with occasional contact with your GP.
You may prefer to join a group with similar problems to meet with a therapist every week to learn ways to tackle your anxiety. If these initial treatments don’t work, you may be offered a more intense psychological treatment or medication.
2) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy ( CBT )
CBT is one of the most effective treatments for GAD. CBT helps you to understand how your problems, thoughts, feeling, and behavior affects each other. CBT usually involves meeting with a specially trained therapist for a one-hour session every week for three to four months.
This is an alternate type of psychological treatment that can be as effective as CBT in treating GAD. Mindfulness works by focusing your awareness on the present moment and by acknowledging and accepting certain feelings. Being mindful can reduce anxiety caused by the fear of actual situations or sensation or anticipated ones. It helps to counter the sense of tunnel vision that may develop during anxiety.
4) Applied relaxation
Applied relaxation focuses on relaxing your muscles in a particular way during the situations that usually cause anxiety. This technique needs to be taught by a trained therapist and usually means meeting with a therapist for a one hour season every week for three to four months.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) ( Prozac )- these increase the level of serotonin in your brain and can be taken on a long-term basis though they may take several weeks to work.
- Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI) Venlafaxine – which increase the amount of serotonin and noradrenaline in your brain
- Pregabalin which is an anticonvulsant but can help in treating anxiety.
- Benzodiazepines which can ease your symptoms within 30 to 90 minutes but they cannot be used for long periods as they lose their effectiveness and are addictive.
If you are still feeling anxious after trying all these treatments, you may want to discuss with your GP whether you should be referred to a mental health specialist.