Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has been found to be the leading anxiety disorder in the elderly. Generalized anxiety disorder consists of persistent, excessive and unrealistic worry. It is a daily occurrence that plagues sufferers. These individuals often expect the worst, even without any reason to believe something bad will occur. Anything in their life can lead to potential disaster and those with GAD are always worrying about this pending disaster. When symptoms and worry occur for at least six months straight, that is when a person will receive a diagnosis.
An estimated 6.8 million Americans suffer from GAD and women are twice as likely to be affected by it. Worry can become so overwhelming that the individual simply doesn’t know what to do or feels like they lack control of their own life. When the case is mild or the patient is treated, a person with GAD is able to socialize and maintain an occupation. But when GAD is severe it can limit a person’s ability to function properly in public settings and can contribute to work production loss and even loss of occupation.
Although GAD affects children and adolescents the most, new research suggests that late-life GAD – which affects seniors – is the most common form of anxiety.
Complications arise when diagnosing seniors with anxiety as often the symptoms may be associated with other illnesses or even masked by other conditions. For this reason GAD may appear “silent” but research reveals it truly isn’t.
Generalized anxiety disorder affects double the amount of seniors than dementia and is four to eight times more prevalent than major depressive disorders. GAD can contribute to a poorer quality of life in the elderly and further health complications. Complications can also arise with treatment of GAD; many seniors already take a slew of medications for other ailments, so there is a higher risk of drug interaction. It is recommended that seniors with GAD seek out cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) as an alternative to medications as a means of treatment.
There are many factors that increase a senior’s risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder, such as:
In order to better assist seniors with GAD it’s important to recognize the associated symptoms and not confuse GAD with another condition.
Whether you’re a care-giver or a senior who’s concerned about your mental health, the first step is to distinguish the specific symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorder. By knowing the symptoms you can begin to recognize what is really going on – whether it truly is GAD or another condition all together.
Symptoms of GAD are:
It’s important to note that we may all encounter these symptoms at one time or another; therefore, to classify GAD the symptoms must be present for at least six months.
Like many mental health disorders there is no exact cause for generalized anxiety disorder. Speculating factors that may contribute to the onset of GAD are:
Genetics: Some research findings have found a link between genetics and GAD and found it can be genetic.
Brain chemistry: Abnormal functioning of certain nerve cells has been seen to contribute to GAD. Nerve cells responsible for thinking and emotion do not run along the brains pathways properly, thus resulting in problems with mood and anxiety. Some medication works to repair these nerve cells and improve signaling.
Environmental factors: Abuse, stress, death of a loved one, loss or change, change of job or school and trauma are just some environmental factors which may play a role in the cause of GAD. Furthermore, symptoms of GAD may worsen during times of high stress.
Even though you may feel like your anxiety is out of control and nothing you do can help, there are some lifestyle and home remedies that can ease your anxiety and make daily living much more manageable.
Lifestyle and home remedies for GAD are:
Because there isn’t an exact cause for generalized anxiety disorder, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what will be the best prevention method against it. What we do know is that lifestyle habits can better help protect you from developing GAD.
Some useful prevention tips include:
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