Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a medical illness that requires attention from a qualified healthcare professional. It involves intense feelings of being overpowered by anxiety, characterized by excessive worry, anxiety and tension, often without an apparent cause. Similar to other medical diseases like heart disease or diabetes, the exact causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are difficult to explain. However, research suggests that environmental and genetic factors (a family history of GAD) may predispose a person to developing the disorder. Experts also agree that GAD may be caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, particularly two neurotransmitters (chemical message carriers) called dopamine and serotonin, which are believed to regulate mood and behavior.
Non-genetic forms of GAD may be caused by highly stressful events like a childhood psychological trauma, the death of a loved one, a particularly difficult divorce, losing your job or other emotionally traumatic events. Although the causes of GAD in a person are not always known, the symptoms are recognizable. Anxiety symptoms often present themselves during childhood or adolescence, but they can also begin in adulthood. People of all ages are affected by GAD, and the disorder is twice as likely to appear in women as in men. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 19 million Americans suffer from depression and 4 million from GAD each year.
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