by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
What Freud called “free floating anxiety” is now known in the DSM-IV TR as Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s excessive worry that can’t be controlled by the person who is experiencing it. Symptoms may include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, tension, and sleep disturbances; when several of these reach the point of interfering with an important part of one’s life the diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is made.
In any given year, 3 percent of the population may experience symptoms and the lifetime prevalence is about 5.7 percent, indicating the chronic nature of the condition. Many don’t go to treatment, and it can be hard going through life with anxious apprehension, unrealistic worry about the future, and failure to enjoy life in the moment.
Psychoanalysts would say that the defense mechanisms of repression and displacement haven’t been effective in keeping worry away. Cognitive therapists treat the condition by identifying errors in thinking. Both Busiprone and Lexapro are prescribed for the condition when excessive worry gets out of hand.