We all worry about our finances, job performance and health from time to time. But for people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), regular everyday worry can be so debilitating that it interferes with work and life.
For those of us with GAD the worries are played over and over in their minds (called ruminative thinking), rarely stooping. This depletes our energy and interferes concentrate and learning. Many often recognize that this worry unrealistic but can't seem to reduce it.
The chronic and persistent worry causes constant release of the stress hormones. This can lead to many other symptoms likr memory and concentration problems, weight gain and unusual physical symptoms. When chronic, anxiety is also a risk factor for cardiovascular problems.
Sensory overload can also occure which often makes social situations overwhelming.
Some can also experience dissociation anxiety in which they seem to have episodes of lost consciousness. This is actually a protective mechanism that has been developed to reduce the feeling of severe anxiety.
About 6 percent of the population struggles with GAD at some point in their life. I suspect the rate is higher because many with this condition do not realize they have it.
Those with GAD often don't seek help for the worry because they may not recognize that it is excessive or causing problems. Some may develop distraction strategies to cope, like excessive cleaning which really distracts them form the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety. While others with GAD may go internal and may isolate themselves.
Unusual physical symptoms are felt such feeling faint or shaky, sensory overload, chronic fatigue, tight shoulders, chronic pain and headaches. Many people go to the doctor for these alarming symptoms and later learn they have GAD.
What is important to understand is that you don’t need a diagnosis to get support for anxiety. You can reach out to a doctor or counselor anytime.