Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Mortgage payments. Job security. Tuition. Health-care coverage. Anxiety seems to go hand-in-hand with life in the 21st century. But when anxiety becomes excessive, impeding daily living, the result is a diagnosable mental illness – generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD affects 6.8 million American adults age 18 and older.

GAD tends to develop gradually and can occur at any age. While the exact cause is unknown, chemical imbalances in areas of the brain involved with fear and anxiety, as well as genetics, can play a role.

GAD is diagnosed when an individual has experienced symptoms for at least six months. Common symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, concentrating, and relaxing; feeling constantly tired; lack of appetite; irritability; frequent urination; headaches; muscle aches; stomach aches; trembling; twitching; and excessive sweating.

“People with GAD tend to go through the day with exaggerated worry and tension and anticipating disaster. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety,” says Bart Mongiello, LCSW, Administrative Director of the Ramapo Ridge Partial Program (RRPP) and Christian Health Care Counseling Center. “They know they worry more than they should, but have trouble controlling these constant worries.”

Sometimes, diagnosing GAD is delayed because it frequently co-exists with another mental or physical illness. Symptoms of the other illness may mask GAD’s symptoms.

GAD can be effectively treated with therapy and/or medication. In the RRPP, GAD is treated through a variety of therapy groups, such as stress reduction, living skills, illness management and recovery, spiritual awareness, and social skills.

For more information about anxiety and treatment options at Christian Health Care Center, call (201) 848-4463, email khockstein@chccnj.org, or visit our Mental  Health and Publications sections.

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