- Posted by Jon Harju
- On October 3, 2019
Everyone gets anxious sometimes, but what if your worries and fears were to become so constant they interfered with your ability to function and relax in your everyday life?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to recall the last time they felt relaxed.
GAD affects 6.8 million adults in the United States, with women twice as likely to be affected as men.
Signs and symptoms of GAD
Not everyone who experiences bouts of anxiety has GAD. For an official diagnosis, a person typically experiences a combination of these symptoms on most days over a six month period. Talk to your family physician if some of these symptoms resonate with you.
- Constant worrying
- Feeling your anxiety is uncontrollable
- An inability to tolerate uncertainty
- Anxiety inducing intrusive thoughts
- An overall feeling of dread or apprehension
- Feeling tense, muscle tightness or body aches
- Difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep due to an overactive mind
- Feeling restless or jumpy
- Stomach problems, i.e. nausea, diarrhea
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Avoiding tasks because you feel overwhelmed
- Avoiding situations that make you anxious
- Inability to relax, enjoy quiet time, or be by yourself
How is GAD treated?
Different treatments are available to ease the symptoms of GAD.
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to reframe thinking
- Talk therapy with a licensed mental health professional
- Prescribed medication
With a combined treatment plan, many people can control their anxiety levels, but only about 1/3 of those suffering receive adequate treatment and/or counselling.
5 lifestyle changes you can make to help your GAD
1. Avoid smoking and drinking
Smoking and alcohol have been shown to make anxiety worse. Drink alcohol in moderation and stop smoking to help reduce your anxiety.
2. Avoid caffeine
Drinking too much caffeine can make you more anxious than normal because caffeine can disrupt your sleep and raise your heartbeat.
3. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, may help you combat stress and release tension. You should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week — enough to raise your heart rate and increase your breathing.
4. Learn to relax
In addition to regular exercise, learning how to relax is essential. Try some helpful relaxation and breathing exercises, or consider activities such as yoga or a guided meditation to help you unwind.
5. Build your community
Support groups can give you advice on how to manage your anxiety, as well as being a great way to meet other people with similar experiences.Find out about local support groups for anxiety in your area, or search online for mental health information and support services near you.
Anxiety does not define you
Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day is enough to produce an anxiety that threatens to overwhelm you. BUT, anxiety is not something that defines who you are. With the right help, treatment and support, you can claim your life back to successfully manage anxiety, empowering you to reach your full potential.
Download Snapclarity to complete your free mental health check-up.