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OF mental health care and mentally ill

general anxiety disorder symptoms

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) results in 27% of people being referred to apsychiatrist for consultation by their general practitioner (GP). Eight per cent of patients seen in the psychiatric out-patient clinic will presentwith GAD. It is more prevalent in females than males. GAD can be acute or chronic,the latter being prevalent for a period of six months or more. It is sometimes knownas ‘free-floating anxiety’. GAD could also have its basis in childhood – issues suchas separation in childhood which have not been resolved fully and are subsequentlycarried over into adulthood.

One way to describe GAD is that of excessive worrying, with or without a cause.The person may experience excessive and persistent feelings of apprehension abouta number of everyday issues such as work performance and family matters. These persistent feelings may or may not be well founded but to the suffererfeel very real. Furthermore, the excessive worrying is invasive and begins to spillover into the person’s life. The person may appear nervous and on edge, maynot seem to relax and the ability to easily startle them is also evident. Restlessbehaviour (for example tapping of the feet, moving about in a chair, looking aroundin anticipation of something happening) and sleeping difficulties may be reported.There may be other sources of worry that may only serve to compound the problem.

The autonomic nervous system at this time is active with possible evidence of anincrease in heart rate, dilated pupils and an increase in respiratory rate. In somesituations, the person may report that the heart is beating so loudly that others canhear it. Walking and maintaining balance can be difficult at this time because ofmuscle rigidity or tremor.

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