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NOT BORN YESTERDAY: Anxiety not just a feeling

BY LINDA BROWN, Not Born Yesterday

General anxiety disorder — GAD — affects 2 to 5 percent of the general population but accounts for nearly 30 percent of psychiatric consultations in general practice.

GAD is chronic or exaggerated worry and tension often accompanied by physical symptoms like trembling, headache and nausea.

Luanne Freund, director at Vintage Park Assisted Living Center, 2250 S. Elm St., said people with GAD just can’t shake their concerns.

“They’re unable to relax. They have trouble falling or staying asleep; they may feel lightheaded or out of breath,” Freund said. “They tend to feel tired all the time, have trouble concentrating and sometimes suffer depression.”

Of all the anxiety disorders, Freund said, GAD is the least understood. Only 25 percent of people with this disorder seek professional treatment, leaving millions of sufferers without simple treatments that can make a great deal of difference. Treatment consists of a mixture of medications and counseling.

Anxiety disorders often are confused with normal reactions to stress. Normal stress reactions might have anxiety as a primary feature and include rapid responses to sudden stressful life events. Anxiety disorders often can’t be linked to specific life events and might persist for months or even years at a time.

Anxiety disorders are treatable with medications, behavioral and cognitive therapy. Without treatment, anxiety disorders can be disabling and disrupt family, work and social relationships.

Linda Brown is marketing director for The Ottawa Herald. Email her at lbrown@ottawaherald.com

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