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A Closer Look at Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Do you typically nervous, anxious or on edge for no reason?

Do you consider yourself a worrier? 

Are you always considering the “what if’s”?

If so this is really common and may be Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). In this blog post we will explain Generalized Anxiety Disorder and how it can manifest for those who struggle with GAD.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder may anticipate disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues.”

You might have Generalized Anxiety Disorder if you find yourself worrying for seemly no reason, your worry is disproportionate to the situation, or you expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern.  

It’s important to know you are not alone. The Anxiety and Depression Association notes “Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected.” 

Where does your Generalized Anxiety Disorder stem from?

Anxiety stems from a perceived threat. Think of it this way, anxiety is like a warning system letting you know there is potential danger. Your body can produce various physical symptoms while your mind conjures up thoughts of worry or fear. Your body is amazing! It’s letting you know you may be in danger, helping you prepare to act and respond quickly to keep yourself from harm.

However, if you have Generalized Anxiety Disbar or any type of anxiety disorder, your alarm system might be functioning a little too well. Rather than sensing real immediate danger, you’re sensing a potential threat when there isn’t one.   

Therefore, not only is the worry you’re experiencing uncomfortable, counterproductive, but also difficult to control or stop.

What are the symptoms for Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Mental/Emotional Symptoms
- Consistently worrying or anxiety about a number of areas which are out of proportion to the situation or events.
- Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes.
- Perceiving situations and events as threatening, even when they aren't.
- Difficulty handling uncertainty.
- Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision.
- Inability to relax, or let go of worry.
- Feeling restless, keyed up or on edge.
- Difficulty Concentrating
Physical Symptoms
- Irritable
- Fatigue
- Sweating
- Difficultly Sleeping
- Muscle Tension or Muscle Aches
- Trembling, Shaking or Feeling Twitchy
- Nervous or Easily Startled
- Nausea, Diarrhea or Irritable Bowel syndrome

Did you know stress and anxiety are actually healthy?

Believe it or not, a little stress or anxiety is normal. In fact, it’s actually necessary! We as humans would never have lived long enough to evolve had it not been for the development of having a healthy level of stress, anxiety, or even fear. Therefore, anxiety is considered adaptive and necessary for our survival. For example, I recently read a Facebook post by a fellow counselor. She was walking down the street and speaking to a client on her phone. 

Suddenly she had to interrupt the therapy session because, "OH SHIT OH SHIT A BEAR IS RIGHT NEXT TO ME!" She was walking down the sidewalk and suddenly realized there was a full grown black bear standing near her! Thankfully, the human race has developed the ability to perceive a threat! Because of this innate ability, she was able to take action! Placing a solid object (a car) between herself and the threat (a bear!), gaining distance from the bear, and seeking higher ground with another person. She possessed a healthy level of fear which enabled her to take action to protect herself. Anxiety doesn’t just keep you physically safe from dangers like bears, but helps in other ways too.

Anxiety has other benefits as well, like increasing your desire and motivation to be prepared, enhancing your ability to learn, and improving your performance. For instance, you’re getting ready to study for the big final exam and your starting to get really anxious. You begin feeling a little uncertain, nervous, maybe a little sick to your stomach. The fear of not passing the test begins to motivate you to study, and increasing your focus as you begin to retain the information. It’s no surprise you’re still somewhat anxious the day of the test, but to your surprise you did great on the test!

How to get support if you're struggling?

If your Generalized Anxiety Disorder is causing you distress we can help! Here at Brave Counseling & Psychiatry we are experts at anxiety. We would love to support you on your journey to wellness whether that be through therapy or medication management or both! Just call or text 573-825-6441. You can also fill our consultation form.

-Elizabeth Hocker, LPC

Brave Counseling & Psychiatry
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