Stress Management

Stress Management

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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Excessive anxiety is more than butterflies in your stomach. It is a real, medical illness that can disrupt people's lives.

Anxiety and worry are a normal part of life. Whether the stakes are a job or the outcome of a sporting event, most people will worry at least a little bit about how things will turn out. Not only is anxiety a common human emotion, but moderate amounts of anxiety can be helpful by motivating people to prepare for an exam, complete a work assignment, or deliver an energized speech.

When persistent and unrealistic worry becomes a habitual way of approaching situations, an individual may be suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Experts believe GAD probably is caused by a combination of biological factors and life events. In fact, many people who have GAD also have other medical disorders, such as depression and/or panic disorder, that seem to be influenced by certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin.

The key element of generalized anxiety disorder is persistent worry that is unrelated to another illness.

Realistic anxiety, such as financial concerns after losing a job, is not a sign of GAD. But chronic and excessive worry about events that are unlikely to occur is cause for concern. Individuals with GAD also experience a number of other physical and emotional difficulties, including trembling, muscular aches or soreness, restlessness, insomnia, sweating, abdominal upsets, dizziness, concentration problems, edginess, and irritability.

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