Definition: severe, ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities
- persistent worries about small or large concerns that are out of proportion to their actual impact. Most people with generalized anxiety disorder realize that their worries are unrealistic.
- inability to relax and let go of worries; feeling keyed up and on the edge
- difficulty concentrating or feeling like your mind “goes blank”
- worrying about worrying too much
- indecisiveness, worrying about making the wrong decision
- physical symptoms: fatigue, irritability, muscle tension/aches, trembling, nervous, insomnia, sweating, nausea, bowel problems, headaches
- symptoms specific to children and teens:
- excessive need/desire to fit in
- lack of confidence and constant need for reassurance and approval
- spending excessive time doing homework
- Prevalence: very common; more than 3 million cases a year in the United States alone.
- GAD affects twice as many women as men
- People are most at risk for GAD between childhood and middle age, and the disorder usually develops gradually
How to feel better:
- Exercise: Even if you don’t feel like it, try to get yourself moving, whether you’re taking a walk or playing a game of basketball with a friend. Exercise is a potent stress-reliever and can help elevate your mood, helping alleviate your feelings of anxiety.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and coffee: sedatives like alcohol, nicotine and caffeine can make your anxiety worse.
- Sleep: Make getting enough sleep a priority – it should be as important, if not more so, that getting good grades or doing other work. Sleep deprivation can lead to a slew of negative consequences, including impaired focus, coordination, and learning; higher blood pressure and risk for heart disease; and greater anxiety and depression. All around, you’re better off going to bed and getting the sleep you need than staying up those extra hours cramming for that chemistry test.
- Food Matters: Some foods have chemicals that boost your serotonin levels; others reduce your feelings of stress. Although our post “8 foods to fight depression and gain a better mood” (link https://silverliningcommunity.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/8-foods-to-fight-depression-and-gain-a-better-mood/) is aimed at fighting depression, these foods do wonders for anxiety as well!
- Face your worries: This doesn’t mean actually going out and doing whatever is scaring you, but it’s important to sit down with yourself once in a while and productively think about your worries. Go over the list of things that are giving your anxiety and ask yourself if those problems are solvable. If the problem is solvable, start thinking about solutions, and get ready to implement those solutions if necessary. If it’s not, that’s okay too. It’s not possible to be certain about everything that happens in your life, and uncertainty doesn’t mean something bad will happen. Everything will be just fine. 🙂
- Professional Help: When all else fails, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. Seeing a psychiatrist isn’t shameful – it’s smart. You’re getting the help you need and deserve, and you’ll feel better soon.
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