Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and all of this is based on my own personal experience. If you think you are experiencing anxiety or depression, please consult a medical professional.
Most people have had the feeling of being anxious, of having those nervous butterflies in your stomach or that heart plummeting into your stomach feeling when you think you forgot to lock the front door or before a big presentation. These are small, everyday forms of anxiety, and they are pretty normal. Everyone feels anxious sometimes, but for people with anxiety disorders; they can feel this way more often than not.
So what is the difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder? Well, anxiety sure doesn’t feel good, but it doesn’t derail everyday life long term the way that an anxiety disorder does. An anxiety disorder creates severe ongoing anxiety that interferes with a person’s everyday activities. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) often means that you feel as though disaster could come at anytime, and are unable to shake an irrational fear that something bad is about to happen. These feelings often persist for six months or longer, which is often the baseline for diagnosis, defining it differently from anxiety caused by a set stressor. With generalized anxiety, it is hard to pin the cause of your anxiety, consequently making it very difficult to handle.
Many people with anxiety are aware that their anxiety is much more than the average; they know that their level of anxiety at a situation is more extreme than normal. Symptoms of GAD can include overthinking solutions to worst-case scenarios, having trouble handling uncertainty, inability to relax, and fear of making the wrong decision. People who suffer from GAD can feel like their anxiety is completely consuming them and controlling their life.
An anxiety disorder can also come with some physical symptoms, which is how I was finally diagnosed with GAD. Stomachaches, headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, muscle tension, twitchiness or trembling and fatigue are just some of these conditions. It can also bear a resemblance to panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Generalized anxiety disorder is often treated with various kinds of therapy, often using cognitive behavior therapy and other methods for figuring out the triggers of your anxiety. Some psychiatrists will also treat anxiety with SSRIs, which is a logical choice as people with anxiety will also commonly have depression, which is also commonly treated with SSRIs. There isn’t a cure for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and treatment will take time to take effect, but keep at it. Many people with anxiety disorders live very normal lives under treatment.
Anxiety can feel all-consuming and overwhelming, but you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to talk to your family and friends about how you are feeling, and let them know the best way to support you. It is hard for them to understand your anxiety without honest communication; they will want to help you to feel better and won’t know what to do for you if you don’t tell them. Most importantly, talk to a doctor so that you can come up with a treatment plan. You deserve a full healthy life, and no matter how difficult it seems right now, there is hope.
How do you deal with your anxiety? Tell me in the comments!