How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed?

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by excessive and persistent worry or anxiety about various aspects of life.

Have you ever felt your heart race, your palms sweat, and your thoughts uncontrollable? Or perhaps you find yourself avoiding certain situations due to intense fear and worry? Anxiety can elicit a range of emotions and raise questions about how to manage it and impact our lives.  To help you overcome all such mental health issues Horizon Medical Clinic offers psychiatry services Oneonta and primary care in Oneonta, Al for quality care.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by excessive and persistent worry or anxiety about various aspects of life. Unlike normal worrying, which tends to subside once the source of concern is resolved, individuals with GAD often find it challenging to control their worries. These worries may be related to everyday issues, such as health, finances, work, relationships, or general life circumstances. People with GAD usually experience constant anxiety, accompanied by physical symptoms like restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances.

What causes GAD?

The exact causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are not fully understood, as it is likely to arise from a combination of factors. However, several causes and contributing factors are:

  • Genetic factors
  • Brain chemistry
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Cognitive factors
  • Personality traits

Common symptoms of GAD

  • Excessive worry
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Physical symptoms
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Cognitive distortions
  • Physical and emotional tension

What are the diagnostic methods used for Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves a comprehensive assessment by a qualified mental health professional. Diagnostic methods used for GAD may include the following:

Clinical interview

The mental health professional will conduct a thorough interview to gather information about the symptoms, duration, and impact on various areas of life. They may ask specific questions about worries, anxiety levels, and physical symptoms, and they affect daily functioning.

Diagnostic criteria

The mental health professional will refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which outlines the criteria for diagnosing GAD. The symptoms are evaluated against these criteria to determine if they meet the diagnostic threshold.

Symptom assessment scales

Various standardized questionnaires and rating scales may be used to assess the severity of anxiety symptoms and their impact on daily life. These scales may include the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7).

Medical evaluation

Since certain medical conditions can mimic or contribute to anxiety symptoms, a physical examination is conducted to rule out any underlying medical conditions or medication side effects that could be causing or exacerbating the symptoms.

Differential diagnosis

The mental health professional will consider other mental health disorders that may have similar symptoms to GAD, such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or specific phobias. A thorough evaluation helps differentiate GAD from other conditions.

How is GAD treated?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be effectively treated through various approaches, often involving a combination of therapies. The treatment plan is tailored to the specific needs and may include the following:

Psychotherapy focuses on identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and anxiety.

Antidepressant medications, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, are often prescribed to help reduce the symptoms of GAD.

Learning and practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation, can help individuals manage anxiety symptoms.

Developing effective stress management techniques, such as time management, setting realistic goals, prioritizing self-care, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation, can help reduce anxiety levels.

Joining support groups or participating in group therapy sessions can provide individuals with GAD an opportunity to connect with others who understand their experiences, share coping strategies, and offer mutual support.

When should you seek professional help?

It is natural to experience occasional feelings of anxiety, there are instances when it becomes necessary to consult with a healthcare professional. If anxiety symptoms persist for an extended period, intensify over time, significantly disrupt daily functioning, or cause significant distress and impairment in your relationships, work, or personal life, it’s time to seek professional help. Horizon Medical Clinic, known for its expertise in mental health, provides primary care Oneonta, Al the necessary guidance, support, and treatment options tailored to your specific needs.