Generalized Anxiety Disorder vs. General Anxiety About the Economy

<b>Generalized Anxiety Disorder vs. General Anxiety About the Economy</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Worries about finances have long been a leading cause of anxiety for Americans. When asked what stressed people the most in a recent online poll at the Anxiety Disorders Association of America Web site (, 45 percent responded “personal finances.” They have good reason to feel stress. The U.S. Department of Labor has been reporting record numbers of people receiving unemployment benefits.

Even among those who feel the economy is improving, a majority named it as a source of their stress. Another ADAA online poll confirms that sentiment: Nearly 77 percent said the economic downturn has caused a moderate amount to “a lot of stress.”

If so many people share such deep stress and worry about their bank balances than they did before this financial freefall, does that mean they all have an anxiety disorder? Does it mean anxiety disorders are on the rise? The answer: No.

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful and uncertain situations. It’s your body telling you to stay alert and protect yourself, in this case to watch your spending, try to save for an emergency, work to keep your job or consult a trusted financial expert.

However, you may have generalized anxiety disorder if you worry about the economy or your finances for many hours every day, you can’t sleep or perform your usual tasks and you’re aware that your fears are irrational.

Also known as GAD, this type of anxiety disorder differs greatly from the normal anxiety we may feel about the economy or any other stressful event. GAD is not triggered by a specific situation: The world doesn’t need to experience an economic downfall for someone to have GAD. Even in the best of times, GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1 percent of the U.S. population, in any given year, and women are twice as likely to be affected.

People with generalized anxiety disorder experience persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about issues like money, health, family or work for six months or longer. They don’t know how to stop the worry cycle, which they feel is beyond their control. Physical symptoms of GAD may include fatigue, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, edginess, muscle tension, and gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea.

Help can be found by visiting the ADAA Web site (, where you can find resources to help manage anxiety, find a local therapist, receive an e-newsletter for people living with anxiety disorders or purchase self-help books.