Anxiety is a normal, inevitable, and often helpful human emotion. Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the world. Yes, these two facts can be true. And yes, these facts alone feel like cause enough to feel anxious! However, understanding your own experience primarily comes down to the degree to which you feel anxiety.
You may experience anxious thoughts at times. Maybe you have a big representation to make or you’re going on a first date. It’s probably nothing to explore. The anxiety is clear.
If, however, you experience intense worry for no obvious reason, it could be Generalized Anxiety Disorder (or GAD). The best way to figure out the differences? Learn as much as possible about them and speak to a professional for guidance. In the meantime, let’s start getting a clearer picture of GAD together below:
How Common is GAD and How is It Diagnosed?
- Almost 4 million American adults experience GAD each and every year
- While it can begin in adulthood, GAD usually starts in childhood
- Girls and women are more likely than men and boys to have GAD
- Roughly one in teens experiences GAD at some point
GAD is diagnosed by a medical doctor or mental health professional. Primarily, this diagnosis is based on the presence of certain symptoms for at least six months. Since anxiety itself is a symptom of conditions like phobias and depression, it is essential that they be ruled out first. Once GAD is the agreed-upon diagnosis, it typically manifests in some particular signs and behaviors. It helps to be familiar with the following:
Signs and Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Sweaty palms
- Elevated heart rate
- Digestive disturbances
- Unexplained muscle tension and pain
- Dry mouth
- Sleep disturbances combined with extreme fatigue
- Being easily startled
- Fixating on past mistakes or perceived mistakes
- Your worries turn into obsessions
- Always expecting the worst in every situation
- Edginess, unable to relax, irritability
- Loss of focus and concentration
- Fear of new or uncertain situations
Younger people also struggle with the above symptoms. However, due to their specific social dynamics, they may also struggle with:
- Peer pressure
- Academic workload
- Fitting in
- Dealing with authority figures
Who Gets GAD?
Your family history can sometimes play a role. This is due to genetic and/or environmental factors. Perhaps you endured hurtful or abusive treatment as a child. If so, your chances of experiencing anxiety increase. Other risk factors include:
- Caffeine intake
- Thyroid problems
- Heart arrhythmias
- As stated above, women and girls are more prone to anxiety disorders
Generally speaking, people who are deemed to be shy or very sensitive seem to be more likely to experience anxiety problems. This is not a statement of blame. However, it can be helpful for such people to be aware.
How is GAD Treated?
Anxiety disorders are common. They can negatively impact your ability to function on a daily basis. But, there is good news. Anxiety disorders can be addressed and treated. Some folks opt for medications but there are several other options available to you, e.g.
- Lifestyle changes
- Relaxation techniques
- Daily self-care
- Working with a therapist
Now that you know more about Generalized Anxiety Disorder, how can this information work in your favor? Perhaps this information has inspired you to more closely examine some of your own habits or emotions. Hopefully, it helped shine a light on any confusing signs or symptoms.
Next, I urge you to reach out. The healing process begins by accepting yourself where you are and allowing yourself support. I have worked with numerous individuals who struggle with anxiety. I’d love to help you, too. Please read more about anxiety treatment and let’s connect soon for a confidential consultation.