Generalized Anxiety Disorder
We have already read about the connection between anxiety and stress.
Stress can turn into anxiety over a period of time and before you know it you find yourself in a state of constant worry and apprehension.
The anxiety disorder known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD for short is a condition where the sufferer has no specific cause to be worried or concerned.
They may find themselves experiencing excessive tension and exaggerated apprehension on a daily basis.
You may worry constantly about:
Your thoughts may be .. what if this happened or what if that happened..
Someone who experiences this type of anxiety and stress is the same person who may worry that their headache is caused by a tumor rather than it being just a normal occasional headache. Of course stress can also cause the headache taking this concern full circle.
The condition can develop gradually over time as there is an area of your brain known as the Amygdala which regulates our our anxiety levels. If we are constantly exposed to stress and anxiety this thermostat can become stuck on the high anxiety level and this is when things like panic attacks and constant anxiety can occur.
Diagnosis of GAD
This diagnosis may be made when the following symptoms present themselves:
- Constant feelings of anxiety about everything
- Feelings of anxiety have been present for at least 6 months
- Difficulty relaxing
- Startle easily
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping problems
Physical symptoms of anxiety and stress may include:
- Constant fatigue
- Muscle tension and aches
- Difficulty swallowing
- Trembling or twitching
Of course these symptoms could be attributed to other medical conditions but when some or all are presented together it gives a good indication of GAD.
This type of anxiety and stress may be treated with :
medications prescribed by a doctor to help promote relaxation and improve sleep
cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of counseling where the therapist helps the sufferer discover their own causes and solutions for the condition by changing their thinking patterns.
If you are prescribed medication from your doctor for an anxiety disorder always ask :
- how it will make you feel (such as tired, nauseated, decreased appetite, etc)
- how long does it typically takes to start seeing any results
- possible side effects.
There are many different medications available and as with most medications the side effects will vary. Make sure you receive all the information first so you know what to expect and you can make an informed decision.
Medications are not for everyone, although some individuals will need to take them to get over an acute anxiety episode. Others may need to take them long term. Personally, I have always felt that medication is a temporary cure and the anxiety may return once the medication is discontinued. Learning to manage your symptoms will be skills that you can use with or without medication.