Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), or simply known as anxiety, is a type of anxiety disorder that causes persistent and uncontrollable feelings of fear, worry, and/or nervousness.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), or simply anxiety, is the most prevalent mental health condition and affects millions each year. Almost everyone will experience anxiety in their life; however, for those with GAD, this anxiety feels overwhelming and can severely impact one’s quality of life.
Anyone can be affected by anxiety. It is not a choice nor is it a sign of weakness. Anxiety can also mean one has an overactive fight, flight, freeze, fawn, or flop response. This means that for some individuals, their nervous system may see something non-threatening as dangerous.
People with anxiety will experience symptoms in different ways and on varying levels of severity. This doesn’t make anyone’s journey any more or less valid; it’s just important to remember that your own journey is unique to you.
If you have experienced any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, it could be a good time to talk to a professional.
- Feeling on edge or jumpy
- Excessive worry, even if there are no signs of problems
- Inability to relax or feel calm
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep difficulties
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Physical manifestations, such as headaches, stomach aches, muscle aches, etc.
- Panic or anxiety attacks
People may experience some or all of the above symptoms. In some individuals, there may be additional symptoms including psychosis, depression, and others.
NB: Anxiety attacks happen due to a specific stressor and happen gradually. A panic attack can happen suddenly and unexpectedly.
As with any health condition, treatment can vary from person to person. What’s helpful for one may not be helpful for another; however, there are some treatments available that can and do help those struggling with generalised anxiety disorder. Treatments include:
- Medication - There is a range of medications, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, that may be useful in better managing anxiety symptoms.
- Psychotherapy - There is also a range of therapies that have been found to have a positive effect on those experiencing generalised anxiety disorder. These include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group or family therapy, exposure therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), interpersonal therapy, art therapy, emotional freedom techniques (EFT), schema therapy, rational emotive therapy (RET), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), and psychodynamic therapy.
It’s best to talk to your health team when looking at treatment options. They can recommend and guide you through what could be the best fit for you and your well-being.
I have a loved one experiencing anxiety, how can I help?
If you have a loved one who is struggling, having an open conversation about how you can best support them can mean the world. For example, asking how you can best support them on their journey. You could offer to help with chores, send them a message to let them know you’re thinking of them, etc. Simply being a friend can often be the best thing to do. Maybe even working on a well-being plan with your loved one that may be useful to both of you.
Understanding this condition is also immensely helpful. It can help you and your loved one to better work with what they’re going through. It’s equally important to also remember to take time out for yourself for self-care.
It’s important for those struggling to know that anxiety can be managed. You can find ways to cope with it and heal from it. There is always hope and people who care about you who will support you on your journey.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that your life has value and you deserve the help, care, and support you need. Generalised anxiety disorder can be managed and you can recover and live a life free of it. We understand how difficult mental illnesses can be, but you are worthy, and you are strong. You can get through this. Reach out and keep fighting. You are not alone. We believe in you.
Resources and links:
- Mental Health Foundation - Anxiety
- Anxiety New Zealand
- Just a Thought - Anxiety
- Cleveland Clinic - GAD
- Mind - About Anxiety
- Mayo Clinic - GAD
- DLCanxiety Instagram
- Dear My Anxiety Instagram
- The Mighty - GAD
- Yellow Brick Road - Anxiety
- DARE Response Instagram
Voices of Hope does not offer direct mental health services, and our team is not comprised of trained mental health professionals. If you require assistance, we recommend visiting our resources page for helpful information.
If you are in immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, or need advice for someone in your life that is at risk of immediate harm to themselves please contact your local emergency services.