Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

The Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

You may wonder why you are anxious. Is it something that you have done (or not done)? Are you at fault? Although you may feel your worries are all psychological, in fact an underlying biological condition may be triggering these feelings. Research indicates there are genetic and biological reasons that may explain why you experience feelings of anxiety. You may have inherited a brain neurotransmitter imbalance or a misguided adrenaline trigger. These are simply chemical imbalances in the body that can be safely and easily controlled with medications.

Women are at higher risk for anxiety disorders, and at least two-thirds of people with anxiety disorders are women. The reason anxiety disorders affect women more often than men is because women experience hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives, including menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. These hormonal fluctuations are thought to trigger imbalances in other neurotransmitter systems, often provoking conditions such as anxiety and depression.

There also are environmental factors that may contribute to anxiety. People with anxiety disorders often report having parents who were overprotective or controlling. Childhood separation anxiety, shyness, and limited social interaction also are associated with anxiety. Stressful events such as the death of or separation from a loved one, the loss of your home or business (such as in a fire or natural disaster), illness, and marital conflict may precipitate the onset of anxiety disorders.

Common stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine, some nonprescription (over-the-counter) decongestants, and appetite suppressants may trigger your feelings of anxiety. For some people, even a minimal amount of caffeine or nicotine can increase anxiety levels.

Fortunately, there are very effective treatments available, including psychological, medicinal, and self-care methods, for anxiety disorders. The first step is to learn more about anxiety and to identify if you have GAD.


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