Generalized Anxiety Disorder (2)

Anxiety. It's a feeling we've probably all had at some point in our lives and is quite normal in many circumstances. Anxiety disorders occur when this anxiety is around most of the time and is negatively affecting every day life.

Roughly 20 per cent of the population will experience some form of anxiety disorder during life. Today I want to talk specifically about a condition called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This condition affects roughly six per cent of the population, usually begins after the age of 20 and can be life long.

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent worry or anxiety about different things. Some common subjects of anxiety for individuals with GAD include ordinary things such as family, illness, money, health or work. GAD sufferers also often worry about confrontation and acceptance.

GAD is a specific disorder, which is distinct from other anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia, post traumatic stress disorder and simple phobias.

Along with excessive worry, individuals with GAD often experience a variety of other symptoms that can disrupt their lives.

These can include some of the following: increased muscle tension or muscle jerks; irritability; fatigue, insomnia and feeling un-rested in the morning; grinding teeth; headaches; startling easily; expecting the worst; ringing ears; blurred vision; hot and cold flushes; sweating; increased or urgency of urination; decreased libido or sexual dysfunction; irregular menses; abdominal cramps; indigestion; heartburn; diarrhea or constipation; poor concentration; poor memory; tremors; nausea; inability to relax; tearfulness; nightmares; aches and pains; unsteady voice; rapid or irregular heart beat; feeling faint; chest pain or constriction in chest; hyperventilation or shortness of breath; sighing; weight loss; loss of appetite; dry mouth; facial pallor; furrowed brow; fidgeting; and increased risk of thinking about or committing suicide.

Symptoms tend to be exacerbated by stress and are often also associated with other conditions such as depression, other anxiety disorders or bipolar disorder.

A combination of some of these symptoms tends to cause significant disruption to daily life and often leads to a significant amount of lost work days. In fact, 28 per cent of lost work days each month are attributed to those with GAD.

Individuals with GAD also tend to use medical services more than the general population, which is not surprising given the number of physical symptoms they can experience as a result of the anxiety disorder.

Unfortunately, even with their higher than normal use of the medical system, most people with GAD are not properly diagnosed and do not receive treatment for their condition.

It often takes more than 10 years for an appropriate diagnosis to be made and GAD is quite often confused with depression or other conditions.

Effective treatments are available for GAD and often involve a combination of therapy and medication. While several effective medications are approved for this condition, there is still a need for newer and better treatments.

This need exists because many people respond only partially to existing medications and some experience unpleasant side effects like weight gain, sedation or sexual dysfunction, which cause them to discontinue treatment.

An ideal medication for GAD would have a more rapid onset of action, no side effects, it would be well tolerated when taken on a long term basis and could be taken by those with various other medical disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension since these are common in the general population.

Fortunately, this is a very active area of research right now and there are many new treatments in development including some that are quite novel. Some promising new treatments include novel antidepressants, gaba reuptake inhibitors and mood stabilizers.

Okanagan Clinical Trials currently has a number of ongoing studies examining investigational treatments for anxiety disorders. If you or a loved one experience generalized anxiety, you may be eligible to participate. Contact our office for more information or a free, no obligation medical assessment.


Current Studies

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 Interested in participating? Call us for more information!