Anxiety is a feeling that happens when you feel afraid or worried. You may feel on edge or tense. It is a normal reaction when you go through a stressful event or things in life are not certain. Anxiety becomes a problem when it lasts for a long time. It is also a problem if it is getting in the way of your normal activities. Your anxiety may affect your work or how to relate to your friends. You may have problems with sleeping, eating, and overall health. Anxiety may also affect the family.
Generalized anxiety disorder is also known as GAD. People with GAD often have fear. They worry that something bad will happen. If you have GAD you may have problems relaxing. You may also worry about many things, not just one.
GAD may be treated in a few ways. Your doctor may use drugs and talk therapy like cognitive-behavior therapy. Both treatments work well. Research has shown you will get the best results by using both drugs and talk therapy together.
In therapy, you will learn how your thought patterns cause your fears, anxiety, and worry. Then, you will work to replace them with truthful beliefs and behavior.
Everyone feels anxious or nervous once in a while. That is normal. But being extremely anxious or worried on most days for 6 months or longer is not normal. This is called "generalized anxiety disorder."
The disorder can make it hard to do everyday tasks.
People with extreme or severe anxiety feel very worried or "on edge" much of the time. They can have trouble sleeping or forget things. Plus, they can have physical symptoms. For instance, people with severe anxiety often feel very tired and have tense muscles. Some even get stomach aches or feel chest "tightness."
Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
For some people, anxiety may be linked to an underlying health issue. In some cases, anxiety signs and symptoms are the first indicators of a medical illness. If your doctor suspects your anxiety may have a medical cause, he or she may order tests to look for signs of a problem.
Examples of medical problems that can be linked to anxiety include:
Sometimes anxiety can be a side effect of certain medications.
It's possible that your anxiety may be due to an underlying medical condition if:
If you do have a problem with anxiety, there are different treatments that can help.
Yes. Exercise can help many people feel less anxious. It's also a good idea to cut down on or stop drinking coffee and other sources of caffeine. Caffeine can make anxiety worse.
Some people have psychotherapy and take medicines at the same time.
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about getting treatment for anxiety. Anxiety is a common problem. It affects all kinds of people.
Keep in mind that it might take a little while to find the right treatment. People respond in different ways to medicines and therapy, so you might need to try a few approaches before you find the one that helps you most. The key is to not give up and to let your doctor or nurse know how you feel along the way.
Makers of herbal drugs sometimes claim that their products relieve anxiety. For example, herbs called kava kava and valerian are sold as treatments for anxiety. But there is no evidence that these treatments work. What's more, kava kava has been linked with serious liver damage. It might not be safe.
If you take medicines to treat anxiety, speak to your doctor before you start trying to get pregnant. Some of the medicines used to treat anxiety can cause problems for babies, so you might need to switch medicines before you get pregnant.
People with anxiety disorders often have to deal with some anxiety for the rest of their life. For some, anxiety comes and goes, but gets bad during times of stress. The good news is, many people find effective treatments or ways to deal with their anxiety.
This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your healthcare provider. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about conditions, illnesses, injuries, tests, procedures, treatments, therapies, discharge instructions or lifestyle choices that may apply to you. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.
You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This content is intended for informational purposes only. It should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or your doctor immediately.