Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Today's new word is GAD

Actually it's an acronym for Generalized Anxiety Disrorder, and I read about it in the January 21 JAMA (Vol 301, no.3:295). It's not that I'm unsympathetic with people who have these vague symptoms, but it really does sound like it's a created disease to give the pharmaceutical companies something to sell. The most interesting part of any medical article is the paragraph I can understand, and that's usually the first one that provides a mini-review of the literature. Here's the story on GAD, and you'll recognize it immediately because 15 of your best friends, 7 of your lunch buddies and 10 choir members at your church probably have these symptoms. At least if they are my age. You just didn't know what to call it:
    "Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder in primary care and is defined by chronic, difficult-to-control worry and anxiety. Related somatic and psychiatric symptoms include muscle tension, sleep disturbance, and fatigue. Individuals with GAD have poorer quality of life, with impairments in role functioning (encompassing social, occupational, and family functioning) on par with those observed in major depressive disorder and other common medical problems such as arthritis and diabetes."
Wow! Not only that but the prevalence of GAD "is as high as 7.3% in community-dwelling older adults and higher in primary care where they are most likely to present for treatment." And with the baby boomers getting older, you know what that means. . . more GAD and increasing human and economic burdens. More for the universal health care plan of the president and his socialist staff to cover! Not only that, but older adults have been excluded from some of the large scale studies, so we need new studies and new drugs to determine the safety, efficacy and tolerability of new SSRIs.

The other day I was reading the blog Crazy Aunt Purl, and she has found a wonderful cure for this type of vague, anxious feeling--she's opted out of the recession. First, before the meltdown, she gave up extreme consumerism, buying only the essentials. She just decided not to be a slave to it, found out she liked having less clutter, less waste. When the meltdown came, she was in good shape--because it was her choice. Second, she switched her alarm from an all-news, all-the-time station, didn't turn on the TV cable news, didn't read the financial news articles or the sad stories about lost dogs, dropped her e-mail subscriptions to the bad-news bears, and didn't listen to the news in her car. She took a vacation from the anxiety and worry that the constant yammering of 24 hour news, most of it bad, spews at us. Smart lady, that Purl. No GAD for her!

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