Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Everybody worries from time to time and it can actually help us plan and prepare for possible threatening situations. However, generalized anxiety disorder develops when the worries become excessive and generalized to many aspects of life.
People with GAD are constantly worrying about possible negative events in the future and often feel that they cannot control their worries. They often have great difficulty making decisions and when they do, they worry about unforeseen negative consequences. Their constant worries leave them feeling down, uneasy and discouraged most of the time. Their GAD makes it difficult for them to go about their daily routine.
Studies tell us that 1.5% of Singaporean males and 4.4% of Singaporean females will suffer from GAD in their lifetimes. GAD can affect anyone at any age. However, the likelihood of being affected by this disorder increases as one grows older.
WHAT CAUSES GAD?
A history of experiencing many important events as unpredictable or uncontrollable.
If one twin has GAD, the other twin has a 15-20% chance of developing GAD as well.
People who develop GAD tend to have a more negative mind-set and tend to interpret ambiguous situations in a threatening way.
Low levels of gamma-amino butyric acid, a chemical in the brain, and high levels of hormones that increase anxiety have been found to contribute to GAD.
How do you know if someone is suffering from GAD?
A person may be suffering from GAD if, for at least 6 months, they have often felt anxious and worried, and are unable to control the worrying. They may also be experiencing restlessness, fatigue, sleeplessness, and may have difficulty concentrating as well .
How do you help someone with GAD?
If you know someone with GAD, you can indicate that you have noticed a change in their behaviour. You can spend time talking to them about their feelings and experiences and listen to them without being judgmental. You can also suggest that they see a doctor or mental health professional and assist them n following through with their appointment.
If you suffer from GAD, how do you help yourself?
If you suffer from GAD yourself, you can help yourself by gathering information regarding anxiety and working together with a counsellor or mental health professional to resolve your personal conflicts.
HOW IS GAD TREATED?
A combination of both medications and psychotherapy has been found to be most effective in treating GAD.
Medications from the benzodiazepine category can be useful for tension relief, relaxation and the reduction of other physiological symptoms. However, long term use of benzodiazepine may lead to severe side effects such as drug dependence, and only licensed doctors are allowed to prescribe such medications.
Antidepressant medications are used to reduce the feelings of anxiety and worry.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) involves a combination of behavioural techniques such progressive muscle relaxation, and cognitive-restructuring techniques aimed at altering negative thinking patterns that cause excessive worrying.
CBT has been found to be effective in reducing both the physiological and emotional symptoms of GAD.
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Department of Psychological Medicine provides comprehensive treatment and management of anxiety disorders. We have a dedicated multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists and psychologists that can provide assessment and treatment for your psychological and emotional distress.
It is never too late to seek help. If you would like to obtain an assessment, please obtain a referral from your doctor or call 65558828 for an appointment.