Experiencing occasional anxiety is normal, especially in stressful situations. However, if you find yourself constantly overwhelmed by excessive worry and anxiety that disrupts your daily life, you might be dealing with generalized anxiety disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder can affect individuals of all ages, whether children or adults. While some symptoms may overlap with other anxiety-related conditions like panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder is a distinct mental health condition.
Living with generalized anxiety disorder can present long-term challenges, and it’s not uncommon for it to co-occur with other anxiety or mood disorders. The good news is that it is treatable, and many individuals find relief through psychotherapy, medication, and adopting coping techniques and relaxation methods.
The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can vary and may include:
Physical signs and symptoms may include:
At times, the worries may not entirely consume an individual, but they might still experience anxiety without a clear reason. For instance, they might constantly worry about their safety or that of their loved ones or have a pervasive sense that something terrible is about to happen.
Generalized anxiety disorder can significantly distress individuals, impacting their social life, work, and overall well-being. The nature of worries may change over time and vary with age.
Children and teenagers with generalized anxiety disorder may exhibit similar worries to adults, but they may also excessively worry about:
A child or teen struggling with excessive worry might:
While some level of anxiety is typical, it’s essential to consult a doctor if:
Ignoring the symptoms won’t make them disappear and may exacerbate the condition over time. Seeking professional help early on can lead to more effective treatment and improved outcomes.
As with many mental health conditions, generalized anxiety disorder likely arises from a combination of biological and environmental factors, including:
While generalized anxiety disorder can affect anyone, certain factors may increase the likelihood of developing the condition:
From Project Semicolon to your inbox
Sign up for free and stay up to date on advancements, health tips, current health topics, and expertise on managing health.
To help diagnose generalized anxiety disorder, your doctor or mental health professional may:
Treatment options are based on the extent to which generalized anxiety disorder affects your daily functioning. The two primary treatments for generalized anxiety disorder are psychotherapy and medications, and a combination of both may work best for you. Finding the most effective treatment may involve some trial and error.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, involves working with a therapist to address and alleviate anxiety symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is particularly effective for generalized anxiety disorder. This short-term therapy focuses on teaching specific skills to manage worries and gradually return to avoided activities, leading to symptom improvement and overall progress.
Various medications can be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, including:
Talk to your doctor about the potential benefits, risks, and side effects of these medications.