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.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety include excessive sleep or restless sleep.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety include excessive sleep or restless sleep. | Source

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.

Symptoms

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

  • Easily startled

  • Restless

  • Tired or fatigued

  • Hard time concentrating

  • Always worried and tense

  • shakiness

  • headaches

  • upset stomach – nausea or diarrhea

  • muscle aches from tension

Treatment

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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Comments - Do you or someone you love suffer from (GAD)? 13 comments

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India

Useful! Description about what you have gone through makes this article authentic. Voted up and sharing.


angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Thank you thumbi7 - I debated on whether or not to add my personal experience. I thought it might make it too personal. I appreciate your comment on that since it was bothering me a little. Makes me feel better about it. Thanks for reading and commenting!


instantlyfamily profile image

instantlyfamily 4 years ago

I found this hub very interesting. Thank you for sharing your personal experience, first hand . Several members of my extended family suffer from this disorder. You've really shed some light on what they go though.I am voting up, also!


angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Thank you instantfamily - It can be a struggle for me to do the simplest of things sometimes. I can get up and do a presentation on the most complex subject but actually driving to the event makes me nuts. I have anxiety about driving and traffic. I just talk to myself the whole way and think positive and do what I need to do. It can paralyze some people and have them sitting at home doing nothing as life passes them by. Sad.. Thanks for reading and commenting.


faith_love_hope32 profile image

faith_love_hope32 4 years ago

Maybe our moms are related? lol I can so relate to everything in this article! I used to suffer from severe social anxiety for years until I was in my early 20's and started to fight it. I was so bad that I would have sweaty anxiety/panic attacks in crowds, waiting rooms, abandoned grocery carts, avoided the beach....carnivals...things I used to love became a place that I feared. With the help of meds and therapy AND forcing myself into the situations that made me uncomfortable helped me so much. It also helped to really understand the causes in my particular case.... I still struggle as well and there are certain situations I avoid. BUT I have come a very long way from where I was 15 years ago. I even had anxiety talking on the phone. I had the travel anxiety but over came that when my son became sick...he has neurological problems. I've had to travel alot because of his health problems. Traveling and bridges I avoided like the plague...but now I no longer fear either. :) I can appreciate you sharing your story. It HELPS others to share our stories and experiences in life. Especially with things like this. Great hub!


angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

faith_love_hope32 - I appreciate you sharing your experiences too. I make myself do a lot of things that I could easily just pass on. I know I have to do it. I always feel much better after I accomplish something that I stressed about. Thanks for reading and commenting.


alissaroberts profile image

alissaroberts 4 years ago from Normandy, TN

Such an interesting article. I have never been diagnosed with anxiety issues but I have experienced a few panic attacks. I have to avoid driving in the rain due to a wreck I had back in my 20s. I also freak out if anyone is close to a balcony. My family makes fun of me but I physically get sick with thoughts they are going to somehow slip and fall. Thanks for sharing your experiences with this disorder and hope you continue to have success with controlling it. Voted up and interesting!


angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Thank you alissa - things are good with me now for the most part. I know how to talk myself through things where before I would just panic and freeze during situation or avoid doing things. I am scared of heights and the balcony thing would freak me out too. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

Great Hub, Angela -- for a fact this was a huge head's up for me (on behalf of a dear friend). I'm one of those full steam ahead type goofs but my friend is a worrier to the point her health is now in jeopardy. I truthfully didn't know there was a name for the problem until reading your Hub. Thank you, thank you -- and know you've definitely helped one person with your information as I'm going to pass it on to her and see if we can't get her some help. Voted UP - and again, thank you so very much. Best, Sis


angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Angela - I am so glad you read this and hopefully can get your friend to go see a doctor. It never hurts to go get things checked out. It can affect your health in many different ways. I am so glad I got help and can live a somewhat normal life (don't think I will ever be normal - ha). At least I don't worry about every little thing that could happen. Good luck to you and your friend. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

Back for just a minute, Angela. Not worrying is a wonderful thing -- don't pursue being "normal" it's boring as hell! Best, Sis


Olde Cashmere profile image

Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

Well written hub and I feel many people will find it helpful with their anxiety. I've seemed to always have an undertone of anxiety that can sometimes get a little heavy. Thanks for a great article. Voted up, useful, and interesting :)


angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia Author

Thanks so much for reading and commenting Olde Cashmere! I still deal with anxiety on a daily basis but it is much easier since I am older and know how to deal with it. I am like you. At times it is heavy and others it is not. Thanks again for stopping in.

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