Have you ever felt like this:
“I was worried all the time and felt nervous. My family told me that there were no signs of problems, but I still felt upset. I dreaded going to work because I couldn’t keep my mind focused. I was having trouble falling asleep at night and was irritated at my family all the time.”
Perhaps your worrying doesn’t completely consume you, but you often still feel anxious for no apparent reason. Worries can shift from one concern to another and may change with time and age. If your anxiety, worry or symptoms are causing you significant distress in social, work or other areas of your life, you may have GAD.
“So I went to my doctor and explained my constant worries. The doctor suspected I was struggling with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), and suggested I consider counseling. Now I am working with a Thriveworks Blacksburg therapist and am learning to cope better with my anxiety. It’s been hard work, but I feel so much better.”
What is GAD?
Yes, occasional anxiety is normal. We all worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) feel extremely worried almost all the time. They’re nervous about so many things, even when there is little or no reason to worry. They have difficulty controlling their anxiety and struggle to remain focused on daily tasks.
The good news is that GAD is treatable.
Living with generalized anxiety disorder can be a long-term challenge. Often it occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder improves with counseling/therapy. Lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques also can help. At Thriveworks Blacksburg, your therapist may introduce you to these and/or other techniques that may help you.
Who develops GAD?
It’s possible for children and adults alike to develop generalized anxiety disorder. Women are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder somewhat more often than men are. GAD sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some family members have it while others don’t. It’s also possible that stress and environmental factors play a role. The following factors may increase the risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder:
- Personality. A person whose temperament is timid or negative or who avoids anything dangerous may be more prone to generalized anxiety disorder than others are.
- Genetics. Generalized anxiety disorder may run in families.
- Experiences. People with generalized anxiety disorder may have a history of significant life changes, traumatic or negative experiences during childhood, or a recent traumatic or negative event. Chronic medical illnesses or other mental health disorders may increase risk.
What are the Symptoms
How would I know if I have GAD? The symptoms of GAD can vary, but they may include:
- Persistent worrying or anxiety about a number of areas that are out of proportion to the impact of the 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; fear of making the wrong decision
- Inability to stop worrying
- Inability to relax, feeling wired, restless or on edge
- Trouble concentrating; feeling like your mind occasionally “goes blank”
Gad sufferers may even exhibit physical symptoms which may include:
- Insomnia, irregular sleep patterns
- Muscle aches, chronic pain/illness
- Trembling, feeling twitchy
- Nervousness or being easily startled
- Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers
- Headaches, migraines
- Heart health issues
Symptoms in children and teenagers
Children and teenagers may have similar worries to adults, but also may have excessive worries about:
- Performance at school or sporting events
- The safety of loved ones/friends.
- Being on time
- Natural disasters or catastrophic events
A child or teen with excessive worry may:
- Worry about fitting in
- Be a perfectionist
- Redo tasks that aren’t perfect the first time
- Spend excessive amounts of time on homework
- Lack confidence and strive for approval
- Require constant reassurance about performance
- Have frequent stomachaches or other physical complaints
- Avoid going to school or avoid social situations
What Should I Do If I Think I Have GAD?
First and most importantly, get help early. You can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you are experiencing an unhealthy level of anxiety. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to overcome GAD. Our therapists at Thriveworks Blacksburg have experience with GAD, and are here to help you overcome the anxiety that is holding you back and preventing you from experiencing a peaceful and calm outlook on life. Call 540-376-3348 to begin your journey towards overcoming GAD. It may be hard, but your caring, compassionate counselor will be with you on the path!