Generalised Anxiety Disorder is characterised by excessive worry about our day-to-day activities. The worry is out of proportion to the actual event and causes the person to have difficulty coping with their work or studies.
The main symptoms are excessive worry which is usually accompanied by restlessness, being tired easily and trouble concentrating. The person may also find that they are quick to get angry, have tensed muscles and poor sleep. They will usually experience these symptoms daily and it can go on for months.
Some risk factors associated with this condition are having a worrisome personality and having gone through a difficult childhood. Genetic factors do contribute to the risk of experiencing this condition. If you have a close relative with this condition, you are 5 times more likely to have it.
The diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder is usually made after an assessment by a trained professional such as a psychiatrist. There are no scans or blood tests that detect this condition however tests may be done to rule out certain medical conditions that may mimic it such as a thyroid problem.
Treatment of this condition is usually by medication, psychological therapy (also known as talking therapy) or a combination of both. The common medications used are antidepressant medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Although they are called antidepressant medication they are useful for anxiety as well. They are commonly prescribed by general practitioners and polyclinic doctors. The medication is effective and patients will usually improve in a few weeks. Patients must continue to take the medication for a few months. The medication has few side effects and it is not addictive.
The most effective form of psychological therapy for this condition is cognitive behavioural therapy.
It is usually given by a psychologist and each session will last about 45 minutes. A patient will have to go for several sessions before they can see improvement. Other than cognitive behavioural therapy, the patient may be taught relaxation techniques as well, such as deep breathing exercises.