Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about everyday things that is disproportionate to the actual source of worry. This excessive worry often interferes with daily functioning, as individuals suffering GAD typically anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friend problems, relationship problems or work difficulties.[1] They often exhibit a variety of physical symptoms, including fatigue, fidgeting, headaches, nausea, numbness in hands and feet, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, bouts of difficulty breathing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, insomnia, hot flashes, and rashes. These symptoms must be consistent and on-going, persisting at least 6 months, for a formal diagnosis of GAD to be introduced. [1] Approximately 6.8 million American adults experience GAD.[2 The usual age of onset is variable - from childhood to late adulthood, with the median age of onset being approximately 31 (Kessler, Berguland, et al., 2005). Most studies find that GAD is associated with an earlier and more gradual onset than the other anxiety disorders. Women are two to three times more likely to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder than men, although this finding appears to be restricted to only developed countries, the spread of GAD is somewhat equal in developing nations. . GAD is also common in the elderly population. [6

Some research suggests that GAD may run in families[7], and it may also grow worse during stress. GAD usually begins at an earlier age and symptoms may manifest themselves more slowly than in most other anxiety disorders[8]. Some people with GAD report onset in early adulthood, usually in response to a life stressor. Once GAD develops, it can be chronic, but can be managed, if not all-but-alleviated, with proper controls Symptoms

Generalized anxiety disorder has the following symptoms:
Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty controlling worry
Excess anxiety and worry that is out of proportion to the situation most of the time
Excessive sweating, palpitations, shortness of breath, and stomach/intestinal symptoms
Muscle tension -- shakiness, headaches
Restlessness or feeling keyed up or "on the edge"
Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep; or restless, unsatisfying sleep)

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common condition. The cause of GAD is not known, but biological and psychological factors play a role. Stressful life situations or behavior developed through learning may also contribute to GAD. The disorder may start at any time in life, including childhood. Most people with the disorder report that they have been anxious for as long as they can remember. GAD occurs somewhat more often in women than in men. Neurology

Generalized anxiety disorder has been linked to disrupted functional connectivity of the amygdala and its processing of fear and anxiety.[11] Sensory information enters the amygdala through the nuclei of the basolateral complex (consisting of lateral, basal, and accessory basal nuclei). The basolateral complex processes sensory related fear memories and communicate their threat importance to memory and sensory processing elsewhere in the brain such as the medial prefrontal cortex and sensory cortices. Another area the adjacent central nucleus of the amygdala that controls species-specific fear responses its connections brainstem, hypothalamus, and cerebellum areas. In those with general anxiety disorder these connections functionally seem to be less distinct and there is greater gray matter in the central nucleus. Another difference is that the amygdala areas have decreased connectivity with the insula and cingulate areas that control general stimulus salience while having greater connectivity with the parietal cortex and...
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