​Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a disease that leads you to worry excessively about everyday things, regardless of whether the situation demands it or not. Most people have worries and concerns in life, and it is not uncommon to feel stressed about different things. However, if you suffer from GAD, you always feel overly tense, anxious and worried about the outcome of mundane things and issues that cause you to become upset and worried to such an extent that it interferes with your everyday life. Just the thought of getting through the day may cause anxiety and all aspects of your life such as work, school and relationships can get affected.

Some people develop generalized anxiety disorder as children whereas others have adult onset GAD. The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are similar to that of other diseases such as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and other types of anxiety, but these are different conditions affecting you in different ways.

The causes of GAD are unknown but it is sometimes believed to have genetic beginnings. It is also caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. In some cases, GAD may be due to environmental factors such as trauma, abuse, death of someone close to you or withdrawal from addictive substances such as alcohol and nicotine.

The common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are as follows:

  • Constantly worrying and being tense

  • Exaggerating your problems in your own mind

  • A feeling of restlessness

  • Being irritable

  • Being tired

  • Tension in your muscles

  • Headaches

  • Excessive sweating

  • Difficulty in concentrating

  • Facing trouble falling asleep

  • Waking up frequently in the middle of the night

  • Nausea

  • The need to repeatedly use the bathroom

Symptoms vary at different times, and may become especially worse during times of stress.​

If you are constantly feeling worried and anxious, and experience several of the symptoms mentioned above, seek help from your doctor working with the Mind and Brain Service Line​ at The Aga Khan University Hospital. You can safely and privately discuss your symptoms, gain advice and receive personalized treatment and care.

For a preliminary examination, you can also consult the doctors working with the Family Health Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital. 
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here​ are some tips to help get you started.
Your doctor will diagnose generalized anxiety disorder, based on a comprehensive evaluation to rule out other possible causes of stress.

Your evaluation will start with a detailed medical history. You have to have a history of at least six months of high stress and tension to be considered eligible for GAD. Your doctor may also conduct a physical examination to check for signs whether your anxiety is linked to another underlying disease. He/she will also conduct a psychological evaluation and ask you detailed questions about your symptoms and history.

Making an exact diagnosis may be challenging for your doctor, because generalized anxiety disorder has many common symptoms with other stress related diseases.
Generalized anxiety disorder is treated with a combination of drugs and psychotherapy. The most commonly used drugs in the short-term are called benzodiazepines. These are often addictive, and have sedative effects which can interfere with memory and attention spans. These types of drugs are sometimes also referred to as minor tranquilizers because they help to remove feelings of intense anxiety. They also help to lower the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle tension and restlessness.

Certain anti-depressants may be recommended for long term use. They take longer to start having effects but they're safer for term use. Some of these medications may also cause side effects such as headache, nausea, or disturbed sleeping patterns. You need to discuss your symptoms and side effects with your doctor to find the right dosage for your particular case.

Psychotherapy or psychological counselling is another important method to treat generalized anxiety disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy is particularly useful and focuses on helping you perform everyday activities with the least amount of interference. It is important to be honest with your psychologist about your symptoms and medication so that he/she can help you with formulating the best course of action for your treatment.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.