Teen Anxiety: How to Help Your Teen Cope and Stay Mentally Healthy

Anxiety is a feeling that virtually every teen will experience during their adolescent years in response to changes, pressures or stresses they encounter in life. While occasional anxiety is completely normal in teens, it is important to understand how you can help your teen cope with feelings of anxiety, and properly manage stress in a healthy manner. Learning how to handle occasional bouts of anxiety that will occur in life will help your teen cope better during hard times, and ensure their mental health stays strong.

According to WebMD, however, 13 percent of teens experience levels of anxiety that require professional intervention and treatment to remedy. For this reason, it is also vital for parents of teens to understand anxiety, and the role it plays in the life of their teenager. This understanding and attention will help you better identify how you can help your teen deal with occasional moments of anxiety, as well as understand what to do to help them if you think your teen suffers from an ongoing anxiety disorder.

Teen Anxiety: How to Help Your Teen Cope and Stay Mentally Healthy

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety is an emotional response to stress brought on by many aspects of life. Anxiety is normal for both adults and teens, and should typically subside naturally as you adjust to changes or eliminate stressors from your life. While anxiety is a normal part of life, particularly for teens, it should not linger or last for any substantial periods of time. If your teen is expressing anxiety frequently, it is possible they could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

In order to differentiate between occasional anxiety and various anxiety disorders, you can use these indicators to identify if your teen is having issues handling anxiety over prolonged time periods.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Frequently restless, wound up, or on edge
  • Easily tired and frequently fatigued and worn down
  • Excessively worrying
  • Extremely tense muscles
  • Irritability
  • Suddenly changing sleep patterns, or having trouble sleeping

Panic Disorder

  • Repeatedly experiencing sudden attacks of fear or worry
  • Losing control, or feeling out of control
  • Worrying excessively about when another panic attack will happen

Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Feeling very anxious around people, and having extreme difficulty speaking to others
  • Worrying in advance about a future event where interaction with people will take place
  • Trembling, blushing, or sweating when speaking to others
  • Feeling inadequate and unworthy of others
  • Difficulty making friends

How Can I Help My Teen Cope With Normal, Occasional Anxiety?

Whenever your teen is under heightened stress, they will be more likely to experience feelings of anxiety. Tests, sporting events, oral reports, moving and changing schools, and going on dates are just a few of the many life events and occurrences that can lead to your teen having anxious thoughts and feelings. This type of anxiety is inevitable, and your teen can benefit greatly from being guided through their anxious moments, so they know how to handle them in the future where they are bound to occur again.

You can help your teen cope with occasional, normal anxiety by trying the following exercises:

Recognize and name the emotion as anxiety, as it occurs.

Ask you teen speak openly about what they are feeling, and what is causing them stress. This will help them both name and understand the feelings they are having, and help them cope more calmly in the future.

Admit a situation is stressful, and brainstorm ideas to resolve the cause of the stress.

Sometimes, just admitting that you’re under an abnormal amount of stress can cause great relief. Talk with your teen, and help them know it is okay to admit stress, and then help them think of some ways that they can resolve the stress and resulting anxiety they are feeling.

What Can I Do if I Suspect My Teen Suffers From a Serious Anxiety Disorder?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of teens with a diagnosable anxiety disorder are not being treated, so it is very important to get your teen the help they need if you notice they suffer from much more than just occasional anxiety.

If your teen is suffering from extended periods of anxiety, and you are unable to help them find relief and peace, then it is a great idea to consult a teen counselor who specializes in teen anxiety disorders.

The Truth About Teens and Stress

Being a teenager is a stressful time. Puberty, school, and social pressures have a big impact on many teens’ mental health, and many develop anxiety disorders.

education and home concept - stressed student girl with books

According to the American Psychological Association, high stress and ineffective coping mechanisms are ingrained in our culture. The APA also reports that school is the most common source of stress for teens. Developing coping mechanisms is very important for teens to manage their stress and anxiety so it doesn’t negatively affect their mental and physical health.

 

Get enough sleep

Teen’s schedules can make it difficult to get enough sleep. Between busy school, after-school activity, social, and part-time job schedules, many teens don’t have much time to relax or sleep. It’s important to make having a regular bedtime a priority. If necessary, watch less TV or engage in less social media and internet browsing. Don’t drink caffeine late at night, and try to get some exercise in the early evening so it is easier to get to sleep. A healthy sleep schedule will make a huge impact on the overall stress you feel.

 

Engage in positive self-talk

The way you talk to yourself impacts you in ways you can’t even imagine. Often, we are our own biggest bullies, and we don’t even realize it. Beating yourself up over every mistake, holding yourself to impossible standards, and constantly comparing yourself to others will negatively affect your mental health in many ways, making it harder to succeed, harder to deal with stress, and harder to enjoy life. Watch how you talk to yourself and make sure it is positive whenever possible. Negative self-talk is one of the biggest causes of self-esteem issues and eating disorders. In fact, according to NPR, neurologists have discovered that positive self-talk can help you like your body more, perceive yourself more positively, and even make you more successful.

 

Open up

Talk about stress and emotional issues you are having with friends, family, and anyone you feel comfortable with. Often, the most stressful part about being a teen is feeling like you are alone. Opening up will help you realize that everyone else is going through what you are, or has been through it before. Maybe they can even share some of their coping mechanisms with you that could help you through a tough time.

 

Sometimes the mental issues teens deal with are more than just stress. Anxiety disorders, depression, and thoughts of suicide are serious issues that affect teens every day. If you or someone you know needs professional help, don’t hesitate to get the help you need. No one has to go through these problems alone, and there are many resources available to help. Check out the CDC for some great resources for suicide prevention and mental health help.

 

Related Articles:

Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias, Oh My!

teen phobias

Make sure you know the difference between a simple fear and when your teen’s phobia needs treatment (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Everyone gets scared or anxious sometimes; it is an important part of being human.  Fear and anxiety are useful emotional responses because they can cause us to change our behavior in ways that protect us from danger.  The teen years are full of situations that create fear and cause anxiety and learning to navigate through those situations is a normal part of moving through the teen years.  However, sometimes those fears and anxieties can become overwhelming and all-encompassing, limiting the potential and progress of our teens.  In order for parents to know when their teen’s fear or anxiety has crossed the threshold from healthy to hindering, they need a solid understanding of the biology of fear, anxiety, and phobias and how to tell when their teen is in trouble and needs help.

Fear

Fear is an emotional response to a specific situation.  The emotion causes several immediate changes in our bodies that are aimed at preparing us to handle the danger at hand.  These changes are also called the fight or flight response because our body is getting ready for us to either run for our life or flight for it.  To do that, our heart rate increases as does our breathing.  This helps get more oxygenated blood to the parts of the body that will need it most for fighting or fleeing, the arms and legs.  This can cause a queasy stomach, paleness, and perspiration.  All of this is our natural, healthy response to a specific threatening situation.

Anxiety

Fear is to anxiety as a tree is to a forest.  Where fear is a direct response to a specific, immediate situation as in “something is happening”, anxiety is a generalized feeling of unease as in “something might happen”.   Anxiety also serves us well from a survival standpoint as it can alert us to the potential for danger before we find ourselves in the position of having to flee or fight.  It can make us more cautious and can help us avoid danger or discomfort.  Anxiety, to a certain degree, is also a healthy, normal response to perceived or potential dangers.

Phobias

While fear and anxiety can be healthy responses, they can also expand beyond healthy to become unhealthy, hindering, and even harmful.  When fear takes on a life of its own and expands to encompass things that are not actually a direct and immediate threat, that fear becomes a phobia.   Phobias are fueled by fearful emotions that are severe, extreme, and persistent and can trip the fight or flight response even when there is no direct and immediate threat of harm.   Anxiety can also expand beyond what is normal and helpful to become a phobia, an anxiety disorder, or and anxiety disorder tied to a phobia.

When it comes to fear and anxiety, the primary differences between a normal, healthy response and a harmful, hindering response are the direct nature of the threat, the magnitude of the response, how appropriate the response is to the situation, and the persistence of the emotional response even after any actual threat has passed.

Teens experiencing normal fear and anxiety may need their parents’ guidance and support to get through the trials and tribulations of the teen years.  But for those teens whose fear and anxiety have crossed the threshold into phobia and disordered response professional help from a mental health provider may be needed to help them learn to how to manage their fear and anxiety so they can have a normal life.

When Eating Disorders and Anxiety Disorders Co-exist

Do you know how eating disorders and anxiety disorders can go hand in hand? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Do you know how eating disorders and anxiety disorders can go hand in hand? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

For many people with eating disorders, the challenge of overcoming their disorder is complicated because of other coexisting mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.  In fact, a University of Pittsburg Medical Center study conducted in 2004 found that two-thirds of those diagnosed with eating disorders also suffered from some form of anxiety disorder over the course of their lives.  In many cases, the anxiety disorder started in childhood, predating the eating disorder.   This underlines how important it is for parents to understand the warning signs of both anxiety disorders and eating disorders and to seek treatment for either condition or both conditions as soon as they see the signs.

When someone suffers from an anxiety disorder, they struggle with excessive, persistent, pervasive worry and fear that is unreasonable to the reality of their situation.  This constant anxiety may center on specific circumstances or activities or it can apply to a broader experience or concern.  There are several different types of anxiety disorders that each manifest differently and can cause different symptoms.  The most common anxiety disorders are:

Signs of Commonly Co-Existing Anxiety Disorders

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is the anxiety disorder that is most frequently seen with eating disorders.  When OCD and an eating disorder co-exist, the two disorders can intertwine causing the person to develop ritualistic behaviors associated with food.  An example of how this would look to parents would be a teenager that obsessively counts calories, weighs their food, or will only eat at specific times of day.  Other anxiety disorders that commonly co-exist with eating disorders are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by repetitive and persistent thoughts, behaviors, or impulses that are unwanted, involuntary, and often seem nonsensical, even to the person who is doing them.  People with this disorder generally experience obsessive thoughts that drive compulsive behaviors.  These behaviors are often repetitive and are meant to ease the anxiety resulting from the obsessive thought.  They are compulsions which makes it very difficult not to do them, people with this disorder can feel driven to complete the compulsive acts and distress can quickly amplify if they are unable to do so.  Examples of obsessive thoughts and compulsions include:

  • Fear of germs, dirt, or contamination that results in avoidance and/or compulsive behaviors like frequent hand washing
  • Needing things to be kept orderly and symmetrical or in a specific order or pattern and experiencing pain, stress, or anger when things are out of place
  • Fear of forgetting things like locking the door or turning off the stove that results in checking and rechecking behavior

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms come in three different categories.  The first, intrusive memories include things that are commonly associated with PTSD like flashbacks and nightmares.  The second, avoidance and numbing, includes avoiding thinking about, talking about, or doing anything related to the traumatic event. It can also include avoiding previously enjoyable activities, difficulties with memory and concentration, and “checking out” by retreating to a numb state.  The third, hyper-arousal, includes uncharacteristic irritability and anger, self-destructive behavior, problems sleeping, and being easily startled.

7 Things that Make Anxiety Attacks Worse in Teens

Do you know the warning signs of what makes anxiety attacks worse? (photo credit: BigStockPhotos.com)

Do you know the warning signs of what makes anxiety attacks worse? (photo credit: BigStockPhotos.com)

Anxiety is normal in all of us, even our teenagers.  However, for some people, anxiety can become overwhelming, all-encompassing, and debilitating.  When anxiety shifts from normal day to day worries to something more, an anxiety disorder may be to blame.  For parents of teenagers with anxiety disorders, it can be as important to understand what makes things worse as it is to understand what makes it better.  Here are 7 things that can make an anxiety attack worse.

1.     Downplaying

Anxiety disorders are not overreactions and one mistake parents make is to downplay the severity of their teenager’s feelings in an effort to help them calm down.  This can backfire by making the person feel unsupported or belittled.  Rather than trying to discount your teen’s reaction to something or downplay the importance or seriousness of an event or situation, offer reassurance about the teen’s ability to handle the event or situation, regardless of how difficult it turns out to be.

2.     Caffeine and Nicotine

Eating or drinking anything with caffeine can make the symptoms of an anxiety attack worse.  Smoking or ingesting nicotine can also make anxiety attacks worse.

3.     Not Having a Plan

One of the ways that teenagers can manage their anxiety is to have a plan in place for what they will do when they feel an anxiety attack starting or when they realize they are having one.  Not having this kind of plan in place can exacerbate symptoms and prolong the attack.   Having a plan can actually help combat anxiety attacks by making the teen feel more in control overall.

4.     No One to Talk To

Another way to manage anxiety is to have several people to reach out to that can help talk through the anxiety in a helpful and supportive way.  If your teenager has difficulty making friends or doesn’t feel comfortable sharing their anxiety issues with others, they may not have this as a resource.  Helping them find other people to turn to in times of crisis can be a powerful tool in managing their disorder.

5.     Ignoring the Attack

It is not helpful to your teenager if the attack is ignored by you or by them.  Acknowledging what is happening makes it possible to find a way to overcome them whereas ignoring the attack in the hopes that it will go away is only likely to make it worse.

6.     Checking Out

Although your teen may have the strong desire to just check out for awhile, this may not be the best course of action.  Anxiety attacks can be very draining physically, mentally, and emotionally and can make it seem like just being alone and doing nothing is the right thing to do.  However, this can actually extend the symptoms.  It is better to spend time with people in a caring, supportive environment.

7.     Alcohol

Some teenagers will turn to alcohol as a way to manage and overcome their anxiety.  While alcohol may dull the effects of the anxiety, it can make things worse as well because it also inhibits our ability to deal with anxious feelings and manage our anxiety.  Alcohol, like caffeine and nicotine, should be avoided by those with anxiety disorders, especially teenagers.

What Parents Need to Know About Panic Disorder

Overview

Panic is something we all experience.  Someone cuts us off in traffic.  We see our toddler start to trip and fall.  The phone rings in the middle of the night.  Panic is the intense and immediate fear of some imminent danger.  People with Panic Disorder experience this type of intense fear at times when no actual danger exists.   These periods of intense albeit unwarranted fear are called panic attacks and those with the disorder experience these kind of attacks repeatedly.  Panic attacks can last for several minutes or more and may include significant physiological symptoms.  The sudden onset and frequency of panic attacks can lead to social isolation and self-restrictions as those with the disorder often avoid situations in an effort to control the uncontrollable attacks.

For some people with Panic Disorder the shame and anxiety experienced because of the attacks can increase the level of fear they experience making the disorder worse and further compromising their ability to participate in their lives and undertake normal activity.

Symptoms of a Panic Attack

When someone experiences a panic attack, they can display a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Heart pounding or palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Shaking
  • Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Feeling as if they are choking or being smothered
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint
  • Feeling detached or disconnected from oneself
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes

Symptoms of Panic Disorder

Although panic attacks are one of the key symptoms of panic disorder, not everyone who has a panic attack also has the disorder.  In addition to panic attacks, people with panic disorder also experience anticipatory anxiety.  This is a symptom seen in general anxiety disorder and other anxiety disorders that involves increasing and often irrational anxiety about an upcoming event.  For those with panic disorder, this anticipatory anxiety may center on the fear of having a panic attack in specific situations.  It can also be tied to a specific event or situation that is a source of fear for that person.  The third symptom experienced by those with Panic Disorder is phobic avoidance.  This is characterized by the avoidance of places or situations where the person with the disorder fears a panic attack will occur.  One example of phobic avoidance is agoraphobia when people are unable to leave their house because of their fears.

Panic Disorder can severely limit a person’s ability to participate in their lives.  As the fear of having a panic attack increases, they will begin avoiding places that incite that fear.  Over time, this can seriously limit their ability to work, participate in social events, go to school, and perform every day activities like driving or shopping.

Who it Affects

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 6 million American adults have Panic Disorder.  Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with the condition.  While adolescents can experience panic attacks, most diagnosis of Panic Disorder occurs between the ages of 18 and 25.  There also appears to be a significant genetic component as those people with immediate family members who have the disorder are 20 times more likely to have it as well.

Causes

Although Panic Disorder does seem to run in families, researchers are unsure why it develops in some people and not in others.  There is no clear cause or risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing the disorder beyond having a family member who has the condition.

Diagnosis

Panic Disorder is diagnosed based on the frequency of panic attacks, the presence of avoidance anxiety, the level of phobic avoidance experienced, and the impact these symptoms are having on the person’s life.   Many people with Panic Disorder also experience other mental health conditions like substance abuse and depression.  It is important that any co-existing mental health conditions and underlying medical conditions are also diagnosed and treated as part of an overall treatment program.

Treatment

The most common treatment plans for Panic Disorder include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.  Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people change their thought patterns, behaviors, and reactions, can be very effective in treating this disorder.  Through therapy, the person with the disorder learns to control and even eliminate the fear and anxiety that causes the attacks.

Medication can also be a useful tool for treating this disorder.  Anti-anxiety medication and medications used to treat depression are both used in treating Panic Disorder.   In addition to these medications, people with Panic Disorder may also be prescribed medications to help control the physical symptoms that accompany panic attacks.

The Real Truth About Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Life provides ample opportunity to worry.  From natural disasters to job losses, there are many legitimate things for adults to worry about and we all do it, even our kids.  While their worries may be different than ours, they are just as real and just as valid.  But for both adults and teens, worry sometimes moves from everyday concern into excessive anxiety.  When worry becomes all encompassing, when it begins to impact every day activities, it can stop being normal worry and become Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Severe non-specific anxiety is often diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and it is estimated to affect about 3% of the U.S. adult population.  GAD also affects about one out of every eight children.    People with GAD experience excessive and unwarranted levels of anxiety about normal everyday events and possibilities.   Often, the anxiety is related to things that do not warrant the level of anxiety being experienced.  It is also not uncommon for those with GAD to focus on the worst possible outcome of every situation to the exclusion of everything else.  When these negative thoughts take root, it can feel impossible for the person with the condition to stop them.

When teenagers have this condition, they can struggle in all areas of their lives.  The residual impact of untreated GAD during the teen years can last throughout their lives. GAD can make it difficult to concentrate at school, impacting grades, college options, and future employment.  It can cause irritability and make people unwilling to engage in or participate in social situations.  When this happens, teens can miss important social milestones, fail to form friendships, and struggle with feelings of loneliness and ostracism.   The significant and long-lasting consequences of GAD in teens underscores the importance of seeking treatment rather than waiting for the problems to resolve themselves.  The good news is that with proper treatment, teenagers can overcome GAD by learning to manage their symptoms.

The difference between someone who worries a lot and someone with GAD is the level of anxiety they experience and how long the anxiety lasts.  GAD causes persistent, chronic anxiety that lasts for at least 6 months.  Unlike worrying about a date for the prom or about getting a good grade on a test, GAD is consistently present; symptoms are often experienced all day, every day.   Another differentiating factor for those with GAD is that calming methods, and even repeated reassurances, do not help to ease the feelings brought on by GAD.

People with GAD also experience physical symptoms including unexplained fatigue, problems sleeping, restlessness, edginess, irritability, difficulties concentrating and headaches.  It is also common for those with this condition to also suffer from gastrointestinal problems including nausea and diarrhea.

While there is no known cause for GAD, it is associated with several factors that seem to increase the risk of it developing.  These factors include stress, heredity, and experiencing traumatic eventsPeople with this condition generally respond well to therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

 

When Shyness Crosses into Social Phobia

Everyone experiences moments when they are shy or self-conscious about meeting new people or participating in big groups.  Many children and teenagers have bouts of anxiety about being in front of others, joining new groups, or being around people they don’t know.  This kind of shyness is completely normal.  But a racing heart and stomach full of butterflies can signify something more than just normal shyness.  Some adolescents are dealing with a type of anxiety about social situations that goes beyond being uncomfortable; they are dealing with a disorder called social phobia.

The biggest difference between normal shyness and social phobia is the degree to which it impacts the person’s life.  People who are shy or uncomfortable in public can bring themselves to attend events, make presentations, and interact with others, even though it is difficult.  Those with social phobia generally cannot.  The anxiety they experience is so extreme, it can be unbearable.  People with social phobia may find it impossible to make eye contact, give oral presentations in class, tryout for sports teams, or even join non-competitive extracurricular clubs.

What is Social Phobia?

Social phobia, which is also called social anxiety, is an anxiety disorder that causes extreme self-consciousness and self-isolating behavior.  People with this disorder can be paralyzed by their fear and anxiety and may find it impossible to participate in many everyday activities.   Similarly to other phobias, the fears involved in social phobia are not associated with anything that is actually dangerous but the person’s mind and body react as if it is.  Physical symptoms are the same as they would be if the person was confronted by real danger that triggered their fight or flight response.  This is an important aspect of this disorder that parents must understand.

Signs of Social Phobia

One of the hardest things for parents is to know when their child is simply shy and when they are experiencing social phobia.  Teens experiencing social phobia may feel their heart race, start breathing faster, and break out in a cold sweat when confronted with a social situation.  These are all the effects of an adrenaline rush caused by their social anxiety.   Teens with social phobia will withdraw and go to great lengths to avoid situations that incite this fear.

Effects of Social Phobia

This type of anxiety can be difficult at any life stage, but for teenagers, it can be devastating as so much of a teenager’s life is about social development and social skills.  Teenagers with social phobia may:

  • Be lonely because of their self-isolation and inability to meet new people.
  • Be frustrated because they want to make friends and participate in school activities and social events but their fear keeps them from being able to do so.
  • Be losing out on getting the best education they can because they cannot volunteer, present in class, speak up when they know the answer, or ask for help when they don’t.
  • Be missing opportunities to use or expand their talents.
  • Be missing opportunities to learn new skills, develop new interests, and participate in their own life.

What Parents Can Do

The good news is that the effects of social phobia can be mitigated and teenagers dealing with this anxiety disorder can learn to overcome their fears.  With the support of friends and family and the assistance of a therapist or other mental health practitioner, teens can learn coping skills, success strategies, and tools for managing their anxiety.  This support can enable them to live full, rich lives and ensure they don’t miss out all the great things about being a teenager.

 

Related Articles:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: What Parents Need to Know

A teen singing.

Generalized anxiety disorder most commonly affects those between adolescence and middle age. Image via Wikipedia

Overview

Everyone worries about things, even children and teenagers.  Whether the worry is over the upcoming history test, getting a date to the prom, or making the soccer team, anxiety is a normal part of everyday life.  However, in some people, normal everyday worries can become excessive and everyday things can cause severe anxiety.  This type of anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and it affects about 3% of the U.S.population each year, including one in eight children.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by exaggerated anxiety and unwarranted worry about everyday problems.  People with this disorder may obsess about the worst case scenario in every situation and are unable to stop their anxiety from spiraling out of control.  Women are two times as likely to have the disorder and it most commonly affects those between adolescence and middle age.

Teens and young adults with the disorder may not do as well in school, may be susceptible to substance abuse problems, and may struggle with social milestones if it is not treated.  However, with the right combination of treatment, support, and assistance, children with GAD can learn to manage their symptoms and successfully navigate their lives.

 Symptoms

People with GAD experience consistent, persistent, chronic worry or anxiety about things that do not warrant this level of anxiety for more than 6 months.

One of the key differences between the anxiety everyone experiences and GAD is that everyday anxiety is temporary and GAD is not.  Adults and children with GAD can experience heightened anxiety all day, every day and it can interfere with their normal activities.  It is common for those with GAD to use avoidance as a tool for managing their anxiety.  An adolescent who is experiencing temporary anxiety will respond to comforting words, reassurances, and a list of the reasons they don’t need to be anxious.  The anxiety of a child or teen with GAD will not be soothed by these techniques.

In addition to the chronic nature of the anxious thoughts and feelings someone with GAD experiences, there are also some physical symptoms that are often present with the disorder including:

  • Unexplained fatigue and problems sleeping
  • Restlessness, edginess, and irritability
  • Gastrointestinal problems including  nausea and diarrhea
  • Difficulties concentrating and headaches

Causes

Generalized anxiety disorder has no known cause but stress, traumatic events, heredity, and biological factors may contribute to its onset.  It is relatively common and can affect people of all ages.  Although it generally develops gradually over time, many people with the disorder cannot remember a time when they did not experience some level of anxiety.

Treatment

Many people with GAD respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of both.  Therapy can be beneficial in helping a person with the disorder to identify their triggers and modify their thought patterns and behavior.  Techniques for easing anxiety and promoting relaxation can also be beneficial to those with GAD.

It is very common for people with GAD to have a co-existing disorder.  Depression, substance abuse, and other anxiety disorders are commonly seen in those with the disorder.  Getting diagnosis and treatment for any co-existing conditions is an important part of overall treatment for GAD.

Related articles