It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time, especially if your life is stressful. However, excessive, ongoing anxiety and worry that interfere with day-to-day activities may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is a condition characterized by pervasive worry. It takes the form of undue distress about a variety of everyday things beyond the scope of more specific anxieties and phobias. A key distinguishing factor in GAD is that the anxiety is focused not on exterior triggers like social interaction or contamination, but internally.
People with GAD can’t seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Living with generalized anxiety disorder can be a long-term challenge. In many cases, it occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder improves with medications or talk therapy (psychotherapy). Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques also can help.
GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the teen years or young adulthood. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and often are worse during times of stress. GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected.
As with many mental health conditions, the exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder isn’t fully understood, but it may include genetics as well as other risk factors.
You and your doctor/therapist must be able to work together as a team to treat your disorder. You’re not alone; there are a lot of people who suffer from GAD. Seeking help is the first step to your recovery. A good place to start is with an experienced mental health counselor like Jennifer Nahrebeski who specializes in adult and children anxiety disorders. Jennifer works with children, adults and families, using a soothing and encouraging approach.
There may be times when your worries don’t completely consume you, but you still feel anxious even when there’s no apparent reason. For example, you may feel intense worry about your safety or that of your loved ones, or you may have a general sense that something bad is about to happen.
Your anxiety, worry or physical symptoms cause you significant distress in social, work or other areas of your life. Worries can shift from one concern to another and may change with time and age.
Some anxiety is normal, but it’s advisable to see a doctor if:
Your worries are unlikely to simply go away on their own, and they may actually get worse over time. Try to seek professional help before your anxiety becomes severe — it may be easier to treat early on.
If you want to learn more about GAD, give counselor Jennifer a call and schedule an appointment (716) 432-3656. For your convenience, evening and weekend appointments are available.