Anxiety is a normal part of living. It’s our bodies’ way of telling us something isn’t right. It keeps us from harm’s way and prepares us to act quickly in the face of danger. However, for some people, anxiety is persistent, irrational, and overwhelming. It may get in the way of day-to-day activities and even make them impossible. This may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
There are many different types of anxiety, including: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, and/or specific phobias.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. This worry goes on every day, possibly all day. People struggling with GAD feel their worrying is beyond their control and can’t be turned “off” no matter how much they try to make that happen. They often expect the worst, even when there is no real reason for concern. Their excessive worrying can be about health, family, money, work, or any number of different things. This worry is hard to control, and occurs on more days than not. The unrelenting worry interferes with every day living and can affect all areas of life, including social, work/school, and family.
Physical symptoms of anxiety include:
Muscle tension; Fatigue; Restlessness; Difficulty sleeping; Irritability; Edginess; and/or Gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea.
How can anxiety affect your life?
Generalized anxiety disorder can affect all areas of life, including social, work/school and family. It is believed that 7 out of 10 people with anxiety agreed that their chronic anxiety had an impact on their relations with spouses/significant others, and two thirds reported that anxiety had a negative effect on their friendships.
Help for your struggle with anxiety:
It is important to remember that there is no single “right” treatment. What works for one person may or may not be the best choice for someone else, and so, your treatment should be tailored to your individual needs.
Whether you have normal anxiety or an anxiety disorder, these strategies might help you cope:
Go for a walk or jog.
Just get moving!
Take a hot or cold shower.
Talk to someone …spouse, significant other, friend, child, or therapist.
Hold your pet.
Walk barefoot in the grass.
Keep a daily journal.
Become aware of what triggers your anxiety.
Eat a balanced diet. (Don’t skip meals and try to avoid caffeine which can trigger anxiety symptoms.)
Yes or no? Are you troubled by:
~ Excessive worry, occurring more days than not, for at least 6 months?
~ Unreasonable worry about a number of different situations, such as work, school and/or health?
~ Your inability to control or “shut off” your worry?
Yes or no? Are you bothered by at least 3 of the following:
~ Restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge?
~ Being easily tired?
~ Concentration problems?
~ Muscle tension?
~ Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or restless/unsatisfying sleep?
~ Anxiety that interferes with your daily life?
Yes or no? In the last year, have you experienced:
~ Changes in sleeping or eating habits?
~ Feeling sad or depressed more days than not?
~ A disinterest in life more days than not?
~ A feeling of worthlessness or guilt more days than not?
~ An inability to fulfill responsibilities at work/school or family due to alcohol or drug use?
~ A dangerous situation, such as driving under the influence, caused by alcohol or drug use?
~ Being arrested due to alcohol or drugs?
~ The need to continue using alcohol or drugs despite it causing problems
for you and/or your loved ones?
If you’ve answered “yes” to several of these questions, therapy may be able to help you.