Do You Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
An overview of generalized anxiety disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder occurs when a person feels excessive or unrealistic anxiety or
worries about two or more areas of their life. The term “generalized” is used because the anxiety the person experiences is linked to multiple root causes – rather than having one specific concern, a person afflicted with a generalized anxiety disorder finds themselves anxious about more than one aspect of their life.
What are some common characteristics of a person suffering with generalized anxiety disorder?
Generalized anxiety disorder can look different from person to person. Some people may notice only a symptom or two while others experience many different symptoms.
The symptoms can vary greatly, but they all fall under two different categories: Mental and Physical Symptoms.
- Continuous worrying or stressing about things in a way that are disproportionate to the situation at hand
- Overthinking about different problems and potential solutions for them with a tendency to focus on the worst-case scenarios
- Feeling like certain situations are threatening or dangerous, even when they actually aren’t
- Inability to make a final decision
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating; often described as feeling like you’re trapped in a fuzzy mental state referred to as “brain fog”
- Struggling to relax; regularly feeling like you’re on edge or jumpy
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Muscle pains and aches
- Trembling, twitching, or bouncing legs
- Nervousness and feeling startled easily
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
- Irritability and/or mood swings
What are some signs that generalized anxiety disorder may be negatively affecting your life?
Knowing whether or not anxiety – specifically generalized anxiety disorder – is negatively affecting your life can be a tricky situation to navigate. Everyone experiences some anxiety from time to time. Feeling anxious about a particular upcoming event, big assignment, or some other aspect of your life that serves as a specific root of anxiety is normal.
However, some signs point to unhealthy amounts of anxiety. When your anxiety begins to affect your life for an extended period or shows some persistent symptoms, it may be something more significant than brief anxiety from a specific cause.
- You struggle to maintain concentration or focus.
Whether you feel like your mind is foggy, your thoughts are racing, or you can’t seem to pay any attention to any particular subject at all, issues with anxiety are made clear when you can’t concentrate.
While this symptom can present itself in a handful of different ways, the results are frustratingly similar – since you can’t get yourself to focus, you can’t pay attention well enough to concentrate or focus on the task at hand.
- You have emotional outbursts that can feel unpredictable and uncontrollable.
Anxiety can spark emotional outbursts, such as sudden anger, irritability, or crying spurts, that seem to come and go with no cause or reason. These frustrating bursts of emotion are usually surprising and happen quickly.
- You catch yourself thinking obsessively about something that causes you to worry, even if you know that your worrying is excessive.
Anxiety causes people to fixate their attention on particular issues or problems they perceive to be a threat – even when they aren’t much of a threat at all.
For example, if you’re feeling mounting anxiety about a work project you know you’re well prepared to present, you may worry excessively over it for weeks leading up to the presentation date.
Similarly, you may feel anxious that your romantic partner is going to leave you even though your relationship with them is healthy and they’ve given no indication that they want to end your partnership. This type of incessant worrying is highly characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder.
- You feel an impending sense of danger or doom.
The tricky aspect of generalized anxiety disorder is that it can be challenging to pinpoint exactly what’s causing you to feel anxious.
Generalized anxiety disorder is commonly associated with feeling a sense of danger or doom that can be difficult to describe, even though the person experiencing it feels its presence and weight very clearly.
- Feelings of anxiousness regularly affect how you go about your daily business.
Feeling anxious from time to time is normal, but when anxiety begins to affect how you’re living your regular, daily life, it may be a symptom that you have a generalized anxiety disorder. For example, if you find yourself avoiding certain situations, events, or activities because you associate them with your anxiety, you may be experiencing some significant negative effects from a generalized anxiety disorder.
Is generalized anxiety disorder curable?
There is no way to “cure” generalized anxiety disorder, but you can recover from it in a way that allows you to live a happy, comfortable, and normal life. Because generalized anxiety disorder can affect anyone at any point and time in their life, the solution to easing the symptoms and complications brought on by excessive anxiety is to learn how to manage and soothe them healthily.
The first step is to get in contact with a medical or mental health professional when you begin to feel like your anxiety is becoming too difficult to manage – this tends to be when you notice it affecting your daily life for a significant period. It’s important to reach out to a doctor or therapist – they can help you navigate your feelings and experiences to determine your mental health needs.
Many people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder work closely with their doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors to find a treatment plan that works best for their specific needs.
Some people need psychotherapy treatment, some people need medication, and some people respond well by using a combination of the two. All people are different, so working closely with a professional is the best way to determine what will work best for you.
Even though living with generalized anxiety disorder can be very difficult, it is possible to find a treatment plan that can help you keep your anxiety under control and overcome it when it gets out of hand.