People with anxiety disorders feel extremely fearful and unsure. Most people feel anxious about something for a short time now and again, but people with anxiety disorders feel this way most of the time. Their fears and worries make it hard for them to do everyday tasks. About 18% of American adults have anxiety disorders. Children also may have them.
Treatment is available for people with anxiety disorders. Researchers are also looking for new treatments that will help relieve symptoms.
This article is about one kind of anxiety disorder called generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. For information about other kinds of anxiety disorders, please see the end of this page.
All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems at one time or another. But people with GAD are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They may be very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.
People with GAD may be very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly.
People with GAD:
GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the time between childhood and middle age. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and often are worse during times of stress.
People with GAD may visit a doctor many times before they find out they have this disorder. They ask their doctors to help them with the signs of GAD, such as headaches or trouble falling asleep, but don’t always get the help they need right away. It may take doctors some time to be sure that a person has
GAD instead of something else.
There is help for people with GAD. The first step is to go to a doctor or health clinic to talk about symptoms. People who think they have GAD may want to bring this booklet to the doctor, to help them talk about the symptoms in it. The doctor will do an exam to make sure that another physical problem isn’t causing the symptoms. The doctor may make a referral to a mental health specialist.
Doctors may prescribe medication to help relieve GAD. It’s important to know that some of these medicines may take a few weeks to start working. In most states only a medical doctor (a family doctor or psychiatrist) can prescribe medications.
The kinds of medicines used to treat GAD are listed below.
Some are used to treat other problems, such as depression, but also are helpful for GAD:
Doctors also may ask people with GAD to go to therapy with a licensed social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. This treat-ment can help people with GAD feel less anxious and fearful.
There is no cure for GAD yet, but treatments can give relief to people who have it and help them live a more normal life. If you know someone with signs of GAD, talk to him or her about seeing a doctor. Offer to go along for support.
To find out more about GAD, call 1-866-615-NIMH (1-866-615-6464) to have free information mailed to you.
Most insurance plans cover treatment for anxiety disorders.
People who are going to have treatment should check with their own insurance companies to find out about coverage. For people who don’t have insurance, local city or county governments may offer treatment at a clinic or health center, where the cost is based on income. Medicaid plans also may pay for GAD treatment.
GAD sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people have it, while others don’t. When chemicals in the brain are not at a certain level it can cause a person to have GAD. That is why medications often help with the symptoms because they help the brain chemicals stay at the correct levels.
To improve treatment, scientists are studying how well different medicines and therapies work. In one kind of research, people with GAD choose to take part in a clinical trial to help doctors find out what treatments work best for most people, or what works best for different symptoms. Usually, the treatment is free. Scientists are learning more about how the brain works so that they can discover new treatments.
For Information on Clinical Trials
NIMH Clinical Trials Web page www.nimh.nih.gov…
National Library of Medicine Clinical Trials Database www.clinicaltrials.gov…