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Home > GAD > Research
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER Generalized Anxiety DisorderDisorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is much more intense than the normal anxiety people experience on a day to day basis. This anxiety is chronic and fills one's everyday life with worry and tension, even when there wasn't anything really to provoke it. An individual with this disorder constantly worries excessively about everything from income, to friends and family, or employment. GAD is perhaps better characterized by the anticipation of disaster that usually is present in every moment of the afflicted individual's day. A rudimentary event like getting through the day is enough to provoke anxiety. People experiencing this anxiety, though they know it is irrational, cannot usually shake their fears.

 
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Research
A great deal of research is currently being supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in regards to the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of anxiety disorders. Studies have been conducted to examine both the genetic and environmental risks for major anxiety disorders. Their course is being examined both alone and when they occur with other disorders such as depression.

Several parts of the brain are key actors in a highly dynamic interplay that gives rise to fear and anxiety. Using neurochemical techniques or brain imaging technologies scientists are locating a network of interacting structures are responsible for the emotions people experience within anxiety disorders. There is a lot of research centered on the amygdala, which is believed to act as a center of communication between the part of the brain that processes incoming sensory signals and also assists in interpreting the signals. The amygdala can signal that a threat is present, and also triggers a fear response or anxiety. This piece of the brain seems to be involved in anxiety disorders like phobias. Different parts of the brain may be involved in other forms of anxiety.

Other research focuses on the hippocampus, another brain structure that is responsible for processing threatening or traumatic stimuli. The hippocampus plays a key role in the brain by assisting in encoding information into memories. The hippocampus has been found to be smaller in people who have undergone severe stress because of situations such as child abuse or military combat. In a disorder such as PTSD where individuals have flashbacks, deficits in explicit memory and fragmented memory for detail of the traumatic event. In addition, research has demonstrated that the basal ganglia and striatum are involved in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Learning more about the way in which the brain transmits and interprets messages may help scientists to better supply the public with better techniques and treatments for fear and anxiety.

Twins and families studies that have been conducted suggest that genes could possibly play a role in the origin of anxiety disorders. Having said this, genes are not the sole determinant of whether an individual develops an anxiety disorder. Environment and experience also has a lot to due with whether a disorder develops. For example, PTSD occurs when a trauma triggers the anxiety disorder. As far as genetic influence goes, who and how severe PTSD is may be determined by genetic disposition. Currently researchers are attempting to learn what the interaction is between genetics and experience with each of the anxiety disorders.

Researchers hope to find out how these variables interact so that they can develop more effective interventions. Currently clinical trials are being performed so that scientists can determine for instance, how well medication and behavioral therapies work together in the treatment of OCD. Studies are also being performed as to medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents who are dually diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Anxiety Disorders
Panic Disorders
Obsessive Disorder
PTSD
Schizophrenia
Social Phobia
BPD
Specific Phobias
Gad
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