Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders are on a large spectrum depending on the severity and type of symptoms. Phobias and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are examples of anxiety disorders. However, generalized anxiety disorder can also be severe if constant worry dramatically impedes one one’s ability to function through daily tasks.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is marked by a constant worry about various aspects of one’s life. Someone with severe generalized anxiety may experience restlessness or inability to “sit-still.” They find themselves unable to focus on the present or concentrate during important tasks. For a child, this may impact learning and school work as they are unable to concentrate in class. People with GAD may also have difficulty making decisions in fear of making the wrong one. The constant worry and restlessness may also interfere with interpersonal relationships as others may find their behavior sporadic or excessive.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder may manifest itself physically as well. People who have GAD may also experience:
- Upset stomach
- Vomiting and nausea
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sudden need to use the restroom
- “Freeze” or feel temporarily unable to move or speak
Generalized Anxiety may develop for people who have recently been going through stressful life events, such as moving, divorce, job loss, death of a loved one, illness of a family member, bullying in school, etc.
For someone with GAD, it takes a lot of effort and conscious decision to be able to relax and calm down. Often, if unaddressed, they find they are unable to relax on their own.
Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder can range from talk therapy to medication.
If you’re experiencing symptoms that interfere with your ability to carry out daily tasks, it is important for you to seek mental health professionals such as a psychologist or therapist.
Psychotherapy for GAD can include techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy. In this type of therapy, the therapist helps the client recognize unhelpful thinking styles and automatic negative thoughts. On recognizing these thoughts, the therapist and client work together to form alternative thoughts whenever the client begins to worry excessively. This rerouting of thoughts, or cognitive reframing, helps the client calm down and influences change in their behavior so they are able to carry on normal tasks.
Therapists may also encourage clients to use Mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness techniques help the client calm down during an episode of excessive worrying and restlessness. Combined with deep breathing, it can help one return to a more settled physiological state and mental state. Mindfulness techniques for anxiety encourage the client to be present and notice physical objects around the room. This can distract the client from their racing thoughts and help them address their worries in a safer environment.
Medications can also help generalized anxiety disorder. Medications for mental health disorders are prescribed by a psychiatrist who is able to work with the client through a combination of medication and psychotherapy. If you’re interested in taking medication, be sure to mention to your doctor that you’d like to see a psychiatrist for your anxiety.