What is GAD?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) describes a condition in which excessive worries are at the forefront of one’s consciousness much of the time. Consequently, these worries tend to interfere with normal life functioning in one or more key areas. As opposed to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), these worries are typically based in reality in that there is a logical link between the stressor and the ensuing worry. Typical worries include concerns regarding employment, continued enrollment at college, being on time for work, health, punctuality for appointments and activities, harm to a loved one due to car or airplane accident, or a sense that a relationship is always in dire jeopardy. There is a general uneasiness regarding the future and what could happen. The concern manifests as a “need to know” that the source of the worry is not in danger or that “everything is or will be OK.” A common representation of GAD would be the individual who calls their spouse incessantly throughout the day to ensure that they got to work safely, are doing well at work and to ensure that they are on the way home. Similar to other anxiety disorders, treatment focuses on accepting the uncertainty inherent in daily life. This is achieved through tolerating discomfort associated with not performing the immediate short-term relief-seeking behavior. It is recommended that the treatment principles discussed in this article be attempted under the care of a qualified mental health professional.

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