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Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder
by Mel March 29th 2009, 01:33 AM

Article featured in Avatar - Volume 2, Issue 9 (March 2009).

Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder
by Lizzie

Visualize for a moment a time when your muscles tensed, your heart started beating faster, your breath quickened and you felt an overwhelming sense of dread. This could be a memory of a time when your car skidded in the rain, when a professor announced a pop quiz that you are not prepared for, a partner wants to have “the talk,” or when you first realize someone caught you in a lie. This sensation that comes over you is termed anxiety.

Though everyday experiences of anxiety such as the examples above, are not pleasant, they are necessary. They prepare us for action when danger threatens. They may lead us to drive more cautiously in the rain, read your school assignments, be more sensitive to a partner, or double think before telling a lie.

Unfortunately some people can not shake this disabling fear and anxiety, and cannot live their day to day life without being overcome by these emotions. People who feel anxious for more then six months at a time are often diagnosed as having Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Other symptoms of this disorder are difficulty controlling worry, significant distress or impairment, and having at least three of the following other symptoms: restlessness, easy fatigue, irritability, muscle tension or sleep disturbance, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

While there are several different theories on why people have this disorder, there is no known reason. Some theorists believe that Generalized Anxiety Disorder is caused by unresolved anxiety from when the person was a young child. Others believe it is from living in dangerous and stressful areas, such as a gang neighborhood. Some theorists believe it is entirely biological and has to do with chemicals in the brain and others believe it could be a combination of some of all of these factors.

Because the cause of Generalized Anxiety Disorder remains unknown, psychologists have no set form of treatment. Some therapists use anti-anxiety medication; the most popular are Xanax and Valium. Others believe that relaxation trainings can teach a person how to calm themselves in times of anxiety. And some therapists believe that just talking about one’s childhood and life can help relieve underlying stress which could lead to this disorder.

Most of the explanations and treatments of this disorder have received only limited research support but we are gaining more knowledge everyday. If you know of anyone who feels like this, you should encourage them to see a medical professional. If you have these feelings, ask your medical professional about forms of therapy. If you are on anti-anxiety drugs and you feel they are not helping, let them know, there are many different theories on how to treat this disorder. If you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and would feel comfortable sharing your story, you could post it in either the Mental Health Forum or the Recovery Stories Forum for others to read and learn about users who are living with this disorder.

I hope through knowledge of different disorders we can all be closer to one another and understand one other a little more. Through knowledge comes understanding, and understanding is what will make us a better community as a whole on TeenHelp.

Last edited by Mel; April 4th 2010 at 08:53 AM.
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