Blacksburg Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Therapists and Counselors in Blacksburg, VA

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:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia, irregular sleep patterns
  • Muscle aches, chronic pain/illness
  • Trembling, feeling twitchy
  • Nervousness or being easily startled
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers
  • Irritability
  • 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!

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects nearly seven million (or more than three percent) of adults in the nation, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. These individuals have difficulties controlling their worries. They may worry more than is necessary about actual events or expect the worst outcome when there seems to be no reason for their concern.

People with GAD often are unable to rest because of their persistent worrying, and it can affect their performance on the job and school, as well cause difficulties in relationships. Sometimes everyday tasks become difficult to accomplish.

Females are more apt to be diagnosed with the disorder, experiencing it twice as much as men. It is typical in individuals who are between 45 and 50 years old and commonly decreases after age 60.

Criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder DSM-5 300.02 F41.1

Many GAD symptoms mirror those found in depression. Sometimes this makes it difficult for the health care professional to properly diagnose the disorder. When individuals are misdiagnosed, they do not get the treatment they need for GAD.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)* has identified the criteria for GAD. The individual must meet all of the following criteria in order to be diagnosed with the disorder.

  • Extreme anxiousness and worrying that occurs for at least one-half year and is present for a greater amount of days than it is not. The worrying is about several things.
  • The person is not able to manage the worrying.
  • The anxiousness and worrying are related to a minimum of three of the symptoms below. In youngsters, only one symptom is necessary.
  • Feels irritable and unsettled.
  • Tires tired quickly.
  • Tension in muscles.
  • Sleep is difficult, including waking up, being able to fall asleep and not feeling refreshed after a night of sleep.
  • The worrying and other symptoms have resulted in extreme anxiety and an inability to be able to perform tasks on the job, at school and in everyday life.
  • The symptoms are not caused by a different type of disorder.

*The DSM-5 is published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Is There Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder DSM-5 300.02 F41.1?

People with GAD can find successful treatment with therapy, medicine or both.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help the individual learn other avenues of thought instead of the worries, as well as the way he responds to different settings that cause the worry. The individual can find techniques that will help him to relax, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and exercise.

An individual with GAD may find that a support group for anxiety is helpful. He may find he is able to relate to others in the group who experience the same type of worrying behavior and share ways to cope with worrisome thoughts.

Suggestions for Dealing with Anxiety

If you are getting treatment for GAD and want to ensure that you are managing the worries and anxieties the best you can, there are a few things to practice that may help you. The following are a few things to do when the worries start to take over.

  • Deep breathing is used to lessen anxiety. Inhale and count slowly, then hold your breath for a few seconds, and exhale for several seconds. Repeat the deep breathing exercise until you feel some of the stress dissipating.
  • Envision that you are at a favorite vacation spot, a serene park or in the garden. You can picture the waves of the ocean, the wind blowing through the leaves of the trees and the different flowers in the garden. This is called visualization, and it may calm you down when the anxiety strikes.
  • If you are worrying about something that might happen in the future, step back and try to think about the current moment. Keep your attention on the present instead of concentrating on the “what ifs” and all the worries that plague you.
  • Do the things you need to do, such as cleaning a room, meeting friends and shopping for groceries. Ask yourself what you would do if you were not feeling the anxiety at the moment. Take the first step to taking care of the “to do” list, and get some of the things done. The busier you are, the better you will feel. Even if you still feel anxious after some of the tasks are completed, it is much better than stopping everything and concentrating on the anxiety.
  • When you are in the midst of anxiety, your brain may be coming up with all types of things that are probably not likely to happen and are unrealistic. This makes the anxiety worse. For instance, if you are about to give a presentation at a meeting and are having thoughts that you will not be able to do it, question your worries. Are the worries realistic? Is the situation you are worrying about likely to happen? What is the worst thing that can happen? What if the worst thing that can happen actually does—how will you be able to prepare for it?

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