Generalized Anxiety Disorder - Symptoms and Treatment
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worry about things that you usually do not have any control over. Everyone worries about things like bills, health, and family. Someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder worries excessively about these things. It is more common in women but anyone can develop this disorder at any point in their life.
We all feel anxious about things at one point or another in our life. Things like first dates and job interviews can trigger anxiety in the best of us. All of this is normal. It becomes abnormal when you feel yourself worrying about things all day and every day. You do things like anticipating bad events or your mind continuing to think the worst of every day situations. There is help for those who think they may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
My Personal Experience With (GAD)
I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder about 10 years ago. I felt constant anxiety about doing some of the simplest things in life. Driving scared me to death. Going out in large groups or just doing the normal day to day things in life worried me so much. I tried to get past it but felt like it had taken me over. I always felt like something bad was going to happen to me.
I heard things like this as a child.
“Lawd child, don't you go out of this house tonight. Someone is going to get you if you don't watch it.”
This is something I regularly heard from my mom almost every time I ventured out of the house at night. I don't like blaming my mother for the way I am as an adult but I have to contribute some of my anxiety to her. Growing up hearing things like this every day made me scared as hell to go or do anything. My grandmother would add an interesting twist to it by saying, “They will bring you back once daylight comes!” To this day my mother worries about any and every thing. It keeps her from doing so much in her life and she can not see it. She has not been treated with medicine or therapy and refuses to “get on drugs” as she says. I have tried to explain to her how much better I have been since getting treatment. It has allowed me to live and experience things that I would not have normally done. Just getting on an airplane and taking a flight was something that I had not experienced until I was 32 years old. I had said that I was never going to fly and my body was not meant to be up in that air like that. Well, a job assignment required me to fly to Austin, Texas. I had to go or lose my job. I had no choice. I put on my big girl pants, took some anxiety medicine, and off I went. I have flown 10 or so times since then and almost feel stupid for letting it scare me the way it did. I still don't like to fly but I do not drive myself crazy with anxious thoughts of crashing and dying.
There are a few symptoms to look for if you think you may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleep during the day
Tired or fatigued
Hard time concentrating
Always worried and tense
upset stomach – nausea or diarrhea
muscle aches from tension
Alternative Methods of Treating Your Anxiety
A combination of medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) works well to combat Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There is no guarantee either of these things will completely get rid of your anxiety. But from first hand experience, they will help you live with it. Anti-depressants are typically prescribed for anxiety and some work better than others. Unfortunately I had to go through a trial and error phase to find the right one. Therapy is great because it helps you to think differently about things. You get so caught up in the negative aspect of events that you don't allow yourself to think positive about anything. Yeah, the plane might crash but you are more likely to get where you are going and have a great time with your friends or family once you get there. I had to think in those terms instead of what could happen that was bad. I looked forward to getting to my destination and what great things I would do once I got there. It worked for me. I would not have learned to think that way without a brief session of therapy. Not everyone is keen on taking medications and some of them, like Benzodiazapines, can be very addictive. If you feel this way about medication then please take the route of a few therapy sessions. Learning to think about things differently can make your life so much more enjoyable. There is no quality of life when you worry about every little thing that has happened or worry about every thing that you have to do.
There are also support groups out there that can help you not feel so alone with this disorder. I did not participate in any but think it is not such a bad idea to relate to others who have the same condition. You can learn from others on how they accomplished things in life without letting anxiety take over. I would not substitute support groups for individualized therapy or medication. I would supplement with a support group instead.
Just Do It!
Do not let Generalized Anxiety take over your life. I was going down a road that was pretty lonely. I stayed at home all the time for fear of getting hurt or something bad happening. You can not live like that. If you have any of the symptoms listed or just have the gut feeling that this is what you are suffering from, go see a doctor. Get your life back and start doing things.
Another Funny Story to Close
I mentioned earlier about my mother's anxiety and something she would say to me all the time as I was growing up. I have to look back on it now and laugh. Otherwise, I would cry all the time about it. Another thing that sticks in my mind is something that she said and was worried about right after I had given birth to my first child. I was laying up in the hospital bed not too long after my son was born. My mom was sitting there with my husband and we were all talking about our cute little red headed baby that was just born. As she was getting ready to leave with my husband she started crying. She looked at us and said, ”I am so worried that someone is going to break into your room tonight and rape you or something.” I was speechless. We assured her that no one was going to break into the hospital room to start with. But most importantly, we were pretty sure that a rapist would not be stalking out the maternity ward at Henrico Doctor's Hospital. She was seriously worried about this and called me every hour for both days I was there to make sure I was safe. This is what anxiety can do to you. It made absolutely no sense to anyone else but her. She was serious and got mad at us for laughing at her. Maybe we shouldn't have laughed but I could not help it. Now aren't you laughing too?
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