Generalised Anxiety Disorder (or GAD for short), it's pretty much in the name, but it's an anxiety disorder that is characterised by uncontrollable worry.
Usually, the worry is irrational and blowing small things out of proportion. We all have periods of worry and anxiety, but for a formal diagnosis of GAD, symptoms must have persisted for at least 6 months.
A lot of people worry about everyday problems, finances, death of a loved one, personal relationships, work and health problems. Sometimes, the initial reason for concern is justified, but some issues are beyond our reach and we can't fix them. Often over-worrying or thinking of all the worst scenarios for issues that we can't do anything about can bleed into everyday life until you cannot function out of worry that everything will go wrong.
This excessive worrying often interferes with day to day life, can set off other anxiety-related phobias and disorders, in my case, agoraphobia and can cause a lot of issues with home, work and social lives.
People who suffer from GAD usually have physical symptoms as well as the overwhelming anxiety and concern they experience mentally. Fatigue, fidgeting, headaches, nausea, palpitations, muscle tension, difficulty focusing/concentrating, trembling, twitching, being easily irritated or agitated, insomnia, restlessness, aching, hot flushes, nervous bladder/bowel and sweating are just a few of the many symptoms.
Anxiety is not particularly uncommon, but you can often feel really overwhelmed and just wish the world away. I know sometimes, I do. Just wishing the ground would swallow you up whole; but it doesn't have to be like that. There are all kinds of help you can get. The first steps is to identify that you have an issue and to understand it as best as you can.
There are a few possible known causes; substances such as long term alcohol, drug mis-use, caffeine can worsen or bring out underlying anxiety, neurological issues, traumatic experiences, prolonged periods of due stress and so on. Sometimes, it can just come out of nowhere and you wake up feeling like you've been hit by a bus, you just don't want to get up because you feel the day will just get worse. You do not have to feel like this, you can reach out and talk to someone, your GP will be able to offer you help.
One treatment is cognitive behavioural therapy (or CBT for short) which can help reduce the number of episodes, lessen the effect of triggers (something specific that induces anxiety or panic) if any and personal attitude. There are also other types of therapy available. You can also go on medication which can help. GPs can prescribe SSRI medications (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) which are often used for depression but commonly also used to treat anxiety.
There are also other psychotropic drugs and other medications your doctor can prescribe. It's often trial and error, but they can help you and will do their best to do so. It's a matter of finding something that works for you. Also, removing caffeine from your diet can really help lower anxiety, and in some cases, almost eliminate it. Although initial withdrawal is a possibility.
I, myself have used several of the fore mentioned treatments... I have tried various medications, and then found one that worked for me, this was combined with therapy and significantly helped to reduce my symptoms. I gradually got a grasp on my life, I could do things, and these positive experiences were uplifting and they helped me go even further, panic became manageable.
However, it is a continuing struggle and I wish that I had carried on with my own personal therapy even when it seemed I was no longer symptomatic as it never really fully goes away, it's a constant fight, but you can keep your arsenal full and fight it when it creeps up on you, flanks you, tries to sucker punch you, or is quite blatantly in your face, there is support and help for you.
I hope this has given you a little insight to GAD. If you suffer, you're not crazy, I promise you, and as always, you're welcome to drop me an email and I'll do my best to help. If you're not a sufferer, hopefully this has helped you understand those who are.
Remember it's important to reach out and get help. There's a lot of help out there and you don't have to sit pulling your hair out.
Written by Elizabeth Fleming of BeneBelle.