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Anxiety Guide & GAD-7 Self Test

Anxiety is usually a normal and sometimes even healthy emotion. Anxiety is one of the body’s ways of motivating itself to take direction and it can be triggered by physical or psychological stress.

However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder[1]. Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry.

These disorders alter how a person processes emotions and behaves, which may cause physical symptoms. Mild anxiety might be vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety may seriously affect day-to-day living.

Unfortunately, as the world evolves around us, many new sources of stress affect the average human. According to large population-based surveys, up to 33.7% of the population are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime[2].

Self-Test Here Using the GAD-7

This questionnaire, called the GAD-7 screening tool, can help you determine if you might have an anxiety disorder that needs treatment. This screening tool calculates how many of the common symptoms you have and suggests where you might be on a scale from mild to severe anxiety[4].

Please consult a mental health professional as soon as possible if your responses indicate you suffer from moderate to severe anxiety. If you received a score in the minimal to mild anxiety range, your risk for anxiety is low. However, you should seek professional help to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

The Anxiety Disorder Epidemic

The way that anxiety manifests itself has not really changed over the centuries. We’re still plagued by the same forms of anxiety disorder as our ancient ancestors, but the things that trigger our anxiety have certainly changed.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, an emotional pandemic is also following fast in its wake. More and more, doctors are reporting the spread of despair, worry, and depression among their patients. This is especially true for those already suffering from some form of anxiety disorder.

Even in our modern world, some of these traditional sources of anxiety are on the rise. These include loneliness, relationship factors such as divorce, violence and abuse including childhood abuse and neglect, increased working hours and more stressful work procedures, and a general sense of lack of control over our destinies.

Younger generations suffer from traditional sources of anxiety as they are introduced to the possibility of failure earlier and earlier in their lives due to increased systematic educational testing.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder & the GAD-7

Psychologists use various methods to diagnose a generalized anxiety disorder, including physical examinations and checking symptoms against the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychological Association.

One of the most common evaluations is the GAD-7 (Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7). This tool quantifies common symptoms and allows professionals to monitor their severity based on the DSM-5 criteria for generalized anxiety disorder[3].

The GAD-7 was created to help develop a brief self-report scale to identify probable cases of GAD. The GAD-7 only focuses on one anxiety disorder – Generalized Anxiety Disorder, the most common type of anxiety disorder. Although, it can still be helpful in identifying other types of anxiety. The GAD-7 can also be a helpful self-reporting tool that helps physicians establish a baseline for patient mental health[3].

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Contrary to the social stigma associated with anxiety, anxiety is not just the feeling of fear or panic. It can have other significant effects on your body and mind.

Some symptoms that anybody with anxiety can experience are[5]:

Symptoms in Children and Teenagers

Children and teenagers may have similar worries to adults.

They may also have excessive concerns about:

A child or teen with excessive worry may:

What are the Types of Anxiety?

If you’ve taken the GAD-7 test and discovered that you are at risk of having mild to severe anxiety, there are steps you can take to help with your anxiety. In tandem with reaching out to a mental health professional, it’s essential to learn that anxiety comes in various forms and may stem from multiple sources or afflictions.

Sometimes, anxiety may not even have an obvious cause and can linger for a long time for no apparent reason.

Types of anxiety include:

Agoraphobia

This is a type of anxiety disorder where you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic. This panic can manifest in making you feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed.

Anxiety Disorder Due to a Medical Condition

This disorder includes intense anxiety or panic symptoms directly caused by a physical health problem.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

This disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worries about activities or events – even ordinary, routine issues. The concern is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control, and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that peaks within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering, or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.

Selective Mutism

Selective mutism manifest itself in children as a consistent failure for children to speak in certain situations. Children may struggle to speak in places like school, even though they can speak in other situations. This can interfere with school, work, and social functioning.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

This is often a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that can be excessive for the child’s developmental level and is related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles. This disorder can be seen in adults as well.

Social Anxiety Disorder

This disorder involves high levels of anxiety, fear, and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness, and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.

Specific Phobias

Social phobias are characterized by significant anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.

Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder

Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that directly result from misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance, or withdrawing from drugs.

Risk Factors & Prevention

The following factors may increase the risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder:

There’s no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop a generalized anxiety disorder. Still, you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you experience anxiety:

Treatments for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. There are many ways to treat anxiety, and people should work with their doctor to choose the treatment that is best for them[7].

Here are some treatments and therapies that your physician may recommend in your fight against anxiety:

You Can Win the Fight Against Anxiety

After taking the GAD-7 self-test, you may have discovered you are at risk of having mild to severe anxiety. Although learning you may struggle with an anxiety disorder can be unsettling, SoCal Mental Health is here to help. We can help you understand anxiety and provide you with various treatment programs that will help you find recovery.

Please feel free to contact us if you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety. Our staff here are more than happy to assist you in finding recovery from anxiety.

Please feel free to contact us if you or someone you know and love needs help in their fight. Our staff here are more than happy to assist you.

Sources

  1. Mayo Clinic (2017, October 13) Generalized Anxiety Disorder.Retrieved January 14, 2022 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20360803
  2. Bandelow, B MD, PHD (2015 September) Epidemiology of Anxiety Disorders in the 21st Century. Retrieved January 14, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4610617/
  3. Spitzer, R. L (2006, May 22) A brief measure for assessing generalized anxiety disorder: the GAD-7. Retrieved January 14, 2022 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16717171/
  4. University of Michigan (2021) Self-Test for Anxiety. Retrieved January 14, 2022 from https://www.uofmhealth.org/sites/default/files/healthwise/media/pdf/hw/form_abn2339.pdf
  5. Mayo Clinic (2018, May 4) Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved January 14, 2022 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961
  6. McClean C. P, Asnaani A. (2011, March 25) Gender Differences in Anxiety Disorders: Prevalence, Course of Illness, Comorbidity and Burden of Illness. Retrieved January 14, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135672/
  7. National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved January 14, 2022 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders