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When Worry Consumes You
Date:2/24/2008

Do you fret about everything around the clock? There is help you can get.

SUNDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Almost everyone worries about something -- credit card debt, car repair bills, an upcoming work review, whether your child will get into a good college. A little worry is natural and normal.

But when you become a 24/7 fret machine, that's not normal. You may have what doctors call generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD -- a condition marked by worry about most aspects of life that you feel you can't control. It can leave you feeling physically exhausted and emotionally drained, and also frustrate loved ones who must listen to you verbalize all that anxiety.

"This worry process never ends," said Dr. David H. Barlow, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Boston University and founder and director emeritus of the university's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders.

"The key psychological feature of GAD is a state of chronic, uncontrollable worry," he added, noting that about 6 percent of Americans suffer from the condition at some point in their life.

"They are always anticipating the worst," Barlow said. They worry about major concerns as well as ones most of us would consider minor, he explained. They can't seem to stop the worrying, even when they know it's unrealistic or unfounded. And once one worry is over, the next one surfaces.

"There is always the next crisis to worry about," Barlow said.

People struggling with GAD "know the worry is out of proportion" to reality, said Jerilyn Ross, a licensed clinical social worker and president and CEO of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. By way of example, Ross cited a woman whose husband is a wonderful family provider. But she'll worry incessantly about finances, even though she knows the worry is unwarranted.

All this worrying leaves GAD sufferers living in a chronic state of physical tension, Barlow said. M
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