It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time, especially when life is stressful.
And let’s be real, life’s stressful a lot of the time (sigh).
However, excessive, ongoing anxiety and worry that interfere with day-to-day activities may be a sign of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
The engine of anxiety is avoidance and the antidote to anxiety is exposure.
In therapy, we help you face the underlying fears that are causing your anxiety so you can find freedom and peace.
If you’re wondering whether or not you may be living with GAD, here are some telltale symptoms to look out for.
SYMPTOMS OF GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
- Excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months regarding a number of events and activities, such as work or school performance
- Difficulty controlling your worrying
- Restlessness, feeling keyed up, or irritability
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance including difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, and/or unsatisfying sleep
PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES OF GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
Generalized Anxiety Disorder can surface from stressful events in your life, including trauma from early childhood.
Changes in brain functioning also may play a role in developing this disorder in the way your brain regulates the chemicals and hormones your body releases in response to stress.
GAD has been associated with abnormal functioning of certain nerve cell pathways that connect particular brain regions involved in thinking and emotion.
These nerve cell connections depend on chemicals called neurotransmitters that transmit information from one nerve cell to the next.
If the pathways that connect particular brain regions do not run efficiently, problems related to mood or anxiety may result.
Gad tends to run in families, which means your diagnosis may be more likely if one of your immediate family members suffers with the disorder.
The usage and withdrawal from addictive substances—including alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine—can also trigger tons of anxiety, making your GAD even worse.
HOW TO DEAL WITH GENERALIZED ANXIETY
Living with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be a long-term challenge.
It most often begins in childhood or adolescence, but can surface during adulthood as well.
Treatment often includes a combination of the following options.
Supportive Care for GAD
Because symptoms can be related to health problems, it’s important to have regular checkups with your doctor.
If anxiety symptoms are present, your doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical exam.
Although there aren’t any lab tests to specifically diagnose GAD, your doctor may use various tests to rule out physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.
If no physical illness is found, your physician may refer you to a mental health professional who is specially trained in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders.
Psychotherapy for GAD
Therapists usually start out by asking specially designed interview and assessment questions to evaluate a person for GAD.
Psychotherapy can be super effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder, as well as a more specific therapeutic technique, called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT essentially helps you challenge negative thought patterns with rational evidence to come up with more balanced and realistic ways of seeing the world.
Once you change the belief systems that are contributing to your anxiety, you can start to live your life with more confidence and peace.
Check out our dedicated CBT page for more information on this technique.
Experiential and somatic techniques are also powerful ways to help you release your anxiety on a physical level.
Anxiety is often the result of trauma, large or small, and we use a wide range of research proven interventions to help you find peace.
TREATMENT OF GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
Consistency is key.
Stick to your treatment plan. Take medications as directed and keep therapy appointments.
Don’t give up if treatment doesn’t work right away—remember, like any skill worth building, the the process takes time!
Facing your fears can be difficult, but treatment can help you feel like you’re not a hostage to your anxiety.
Remember to take care of yourself, get enough sleep, eat healthy, and try to be physically active every day.
Avoid substances—even coffee—gasp!—as it can make anxiety worse.
Mindfulness and meditation strategies have been empirically validated to help people reduce anxiety and avoidant behaviors.
Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga can be helpful coping tools as well.
You may also want to consider joining a support group to connect with others facing the same challenges.
Make an effort to participate in activities by staying involved in work, social, and family activities.
Change what you can and let the rest take its course.
And don’t forget to celebrate success, even the small victories!
OUR GAD THERAPY METHODS
Our evidence-based, scientifically proven interventions are demonstrated to be effective for overcoming mental health issues such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Learn more about our empirically based therapy modalities by visiting our Methods page.
WANT TO TALK? SPEAK WITH A GAD EXPERT NOW
If you have any questions, contact one of our GAD specialists for a free consultation any time.