Personality characteristics (understood as the habitual way of thinking, reacting and relating to others), whose development is affected by both genetic and educational factors: people who suffer from generalized anxiety usually describe themselves as sensitive, emotional, easy to worry, characteristics on the other hand, they are also common to family members; in this regard, genetic factors also seem important, however it is not yet clear how much they represent a risk factor, but equally important is the education received which can positively interfere by increasing the sense of security and negatively reinforcing fears and expectations of damage .
A style of thinking whereby events tend to be interpreted in a catastrophic
Threatening way (e.g. hearing the phone ring, imagining bad news, rather than a pleasant chat): people with the disorder have a tendency to automatically interpret as threatening everything that happens, for example, if you meet the disheveled gaze of a boss, the person will tend to think of it as a sign of disapproval rather than due to some difficulty in personal life; or hearing the phone ring suggests that you are receiving bad news, rather than a friend wanting to have a chat.
Stress associated with events that involve major life changes (e.g. bereavement, change of job, home or partner): anxiety can begin in times of high stress, sometimes a big problem or even a series of small problems can interfere with our ability to adapt and pose a strong threat.
Those with generalized anxiety disorder find it difficult to prevent worries from interfering with attention to the activities they are doing; this implies an impairment of the working (eg slowing down in the performance of tasks) and social functioning (eg tensions caused by frequent requests for reassurance) of these people.
The presence of excessive worries and the difficulty in managing them can also produce a decrease in the sense of personal effectiveness and self-esteem, which often lead to secondary depression.
Another frequent consequence of generalized anxiety disorder is the abuse of psychoactive substances (eg drugs, drugs), which the person can resort to as a desperate attempt to manage the disorder itself or the depression that may follow.
Different types of treatment
The treatments recognized as the most effective for the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy.
In drug therapy, new generation antidepressants and benzodiazepines are used. In the short term, these drugs are effective, but upon discontinuation of their intake, it is possible that the symptoms of the disorder will recur as its causes may remain unchanged.
Treating this disorder with drugs alone could be like treating severe back pain by using painkillers only: after some time it is possible that the pain will come back because you have not acted on what caused it.
On the other hand, drugs, by lowering the levels of subjective suffering and anxiety, create favorable conditions for an effective psychotherapeutic intervention.
- For these reasons, clinicians often associate psychotherapeutic treatment with pharmacological treatment.
- In reality, drug therapy is not always prescribed, but it is necessary at least temporarily, for people who have a very intense anxious activation.
A condition that often arises as an obstacle to taking drugs of this type is the “fear“, sometimes conviction, of developing an addiction to these drugs; often this is a prejudice that hinders the effectiveness of the treatment.
Indeed, some drugs (eg benzodiazepines) can cause addiction in the long term, however taking the drug under the supervision of an experienced doctor (psychiatrist) avoids and decreases the risk of this condition.