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Calm Your General Anxiety Disorder: Understanding the Causes/Best Treatments

Consistently trying to deal with anxiety can be a frightening way to live your life. For some it’s like an invisible monster threatening to rob you of feelings of peace and security. You can’t see it but you know it’s there. And like the vicious monster it is, it’s always on the prowl ready to catch you unaware.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is very different from the occasional anxious moments we all experience from time to time.  People with GAD have excessive worry about ordinary events that wouldn’t ordinarily be cause for concern.  They tend to be unable to get a grip on their anxious feelings and with no compelling evidence to go on, they expect disaster at every turn.  Exaggerated anxiety about their health, finances, loved ones, and career leaves them paralyzed with indecision and mental and emotional anguish. Ultimately, their thoughts are so dominated by anxiety that it becomes almost impossible to function normally.  Every aspect of life is affected.

The causes of General Anxiety Disorder.

While the precise cause of GAD is unknown, there are key factors that contribute to its development.

A family history of GAD suggests that the cause may be in part due to genetics.  Those with family members with GAD are at an increased risk of developing the disorder.

In some cases, brain chemistry is a factor.  If abnormal levels of brain chemicals are present or they are out of balance, then the brain cannot receive messages properly.  This in turn affects brain behavior and leads to anxiety.

Environmental causes such as physical and emotional abuse, divorce, the death of a loved one, or major life changes can lead to high levels of anxiety than are extremely difficult to manage on your own.

Symptoms of GAD.

Though anxiety largely affects thoughts and feelings, it will manifest itself with physical symptoms.  These include headaches, muscle aches and pains, sweating, nausea, frequent trips to the restroom, trembling, and sleep difficulties. As if the anxiety isn’t bad enough, people with GAD often have panic disorder, phobias, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and may abuse alcohol or drugs.

Treatments for Anxiety.

When the mental and physical symptoms make anxiety impossible to ignore, those suffering with GAD may be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist. The treatment prescribed is usually a combination of prescription medications and behavior therapy. The medications prescribed are most often tranquilizers.  While they are effective in providing relief from the tension and worry, they come with their own set of problems. Some are addictive and some are controversial in that many experts believe they can negatively alter brain functioning. In addition to tranquilizers sometimes antidepressants are prescribed. 

Treating GAD with cognitive-behavioral therapy works well for many because it teaches how to correct distorted thinking by recognizing negative thought patterns. It also supplies the tools to adequately change these self sabotaging patterns.

Natural treatments for GAD.

Because of the potentially dangerous side effects of prescription drugs, many people seek a more natural approach to dealing with anxiety. Herbs can be highly effective and are a much safer alternative in most cases.  Kava has been researched extensively and promotes relaxation.  California poppy relieves anxiety and pain.  Passionflower relieves both insomnia and worry.  Hops combats sleep disorders and the restlessness brought about by anxiety.  Many find lavender and chamomile tea highly relaxing.

In addition to herbs, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and relaxation rituals can do a lot to ease the stress and worry of GAD.  One of the best things you can do for yourself, however, is to learn to be kind to yourself.  Treat yourself well and learn to laugh at the daily stressors that affect all of us.  When you accept your whole self, your perceived warts and all, you can rid yourself of a good bit of anxiety simply by no longer trying to change things that may be out of your control.
Since you can’t change the past and there is no point in worrying about what may or may not happen in the future, try to enjoy the now.  Focus on the good things, create an attitude of gratitude, and you may soon find stress, tension, and anxious feelings begin to evaporate.

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