Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety Disorder

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THERE ARE FIVE MAJOR ANXIETY DISORDERS
  1. Generalised anxiety disorder
  2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  3. Panic disorder
  4. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  5. Social phobia (or social anxiety disorder)
This brochure is based on generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
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COMMON SYMPTOMS OF GAD (GENERAL ANXIETY DISORDER)
Common symptoms include the following:
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PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS
Physical symptoms include the following:
Infographic showing the differences between normal anxiety and gad
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EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS
Emotional symptoms include the following:
  • Excessive worrying
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling tense or highly strung
  • Being on edge
The above illustrates that generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) cannot be ignored or dismissed as a “mental issue”. On the contrary, it can be crippling and presents immense challenges to an individual’s general health and physical wellbeing.
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DEPRESSION VERSUS ANXIETY
Although depression and anxiety differ considerably, there are some commonalities, such as the following:
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive worrying
  • Agitation
 

NORMAL STRESS IN COMPARISON TO GAD

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THE PROBLEM GOES BEYOND GAD
Those with generalised anxiety disorder may, in addition, also experience one or more of the following:
  • Irrational fears
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Clinical depression
  • Addiction problems (drugs, alcohol)
  • Generalised panic disorder
  • Burnout
 
Consequently, GAD cannot be ignored or dismissed as a “mental issue”. Rather, it can be crippling and presents immense challenges to an individual’s general health and physical wellbeing.
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CAUSES
The exact cause of generalised anxiety disorder has not yet been established. However, experts agree that several factors may play a role. For example:
  • The incorrect functioning of certain nerve cell pathways, particularly those that are involved with emotions and thinking.
  • These pathways depend on messengers, called neurotransmitters, to connect.
  • Thus, problems with these nerve cell pathways and/or messengers may result in “faulty” connections, and subsequently GAD.
  • Genetics
  • Family history may increase the likelihood of the disorder
  • Environmental factors
  • Trauma
  • Stressful event
  • Substance withdrawal
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DIAGNOSIS
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) defines the diagnosis for mental health professionals as: For children, the anxiety and worry are associated with fewer (one or more) of the six symptoms. Conversely, for adults this number is higher (three or more). The process may entail the following:
  • Medical and psychiatric history
  • A physical examination and lab tests to rule out other causes of the symptoms
  • Reports on the intensity and time-frame of the symptoms
  • Evaluation of the degree of the dysfunction
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MANAGEMENT
Generalised anxiety disorder is usually managed through medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy, addressing both physical and emotional symptoms.
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COGNITIVE-BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY
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MEDICATION
  • Short-term sedative-hypnotics
  • Certain anti-depressants (SSRI’s & SNRI’s)
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Other ranges of medication may also play a role, including pregabalin and agomelatine
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ADDITIONAL MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
  • Exercise and a healthy diet
  • Avoiding or reducing caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
  • Adequate sleep
  • A support structure

Medical References

Anxiety disorder and gad brochure medical references
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