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4 Ways to Identify Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Yourself

4 Ways to Identify Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Yourself

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday things. People with this disorder experience exaggerated worry and tension, and they often expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern. In addition, GAD sufferers often anticipate disaster, and they are overly concerned about money, health, family, work or other issues. To identify whether you are struggling with this issue, you need to understand the difference between it and anxiety, investigate your physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms and seek a diagnosis from a professional. If you are confirmed with GAD, then seek treatment as soon as possible.

The Difference Between Anxiety and GAD

The differences between anxiety and GAD are associated with extremes and duration. The Helpguide.org article Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) states that people with basic worry can still complete their daily activities and responsibilities and they can control themselves. These feelings do not cause significant distress, are associated with a known event or realistic concern and they only last for a short period of time. Conversely, people with GAD worry in the following ways:

  • Problems at work, activities and social life
  • Worrying is uncontrollable
  • Worries are extremely upsetting and stressful
  • Worry about all sorts of things, and tend to expect the worst
  • This problem has persisted every day for at least six months

Living with GAD can be extremely difficult; therefore, if you are experiencing worry that is seems unmanageable for a long period of time, then seek a diagnosis as soon as possible.

Symptoms of GAD

In the same article, Helpguide.org details the following emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms of GAD:

  • Intrusive thoughts about problems that cause anxiety; you try to avoid thinking about them, but you cannot
  • An inability to tolerate uncertainty; you need to know what is going to happen in the future
  • A pervasive feeling of apprehension or dread
  • Inability to relax, enjoy quiet time or be by yourself
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Putting problems off, because you feel overwhelmed
  • Avoiding situations that make you anxious
  • Feeling tense, having muscle tightness or body aches
  • Having trouble falling or staying asleep because your mind will not quit
  • Feeling edgy, restless or jumpy
  • Stomach problems, nausea or diarrhea

If you have examined the different symptoms of anxiety and GAD and believe you struggle with the disorder, then the third way for you to identify this issue is by seeking a professional diagnosis.

Diagnosing GAD

The American Family Physician article, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, states that an algorithm can diagnose this problem. First, as GAD is a mental health issue, physicians must rule out other possibilities before they can confirm this disorder. Ergo, the first step is to evaluate the person for medical illnesses that may exacerbate a more normal feeling of anxiety. During this physical examination, physicians must investigate the medications someone takes, whether they are prescribed, over-the-counter or herbal, because all of these substance can cause anxiety. In addition, physicians must explore substance abuse, either drugs or alcohol, because these acts can also contribute to GAD.

If the physical examination does not identify any other factor, then the physician moves to emotional and mental health issues that might cause anxiety. Have there been any new and major stressors in the patient’s life, such as a death, divorce or job loss? Does the patient have a chronic condition that may cause continuous stress? Does the patient have an inadequate family and support system that might lead to severe isolation?

If these questions prove inconclusive, then the physician explores whether the person is experiencing panic attacks or major depressive episodes. If yes, then she will determine if those issues are coupled with uncontrollable worry that is extremely stressful. Finally, she will inquire if these symptoms have persisted for at least six months. If so, then the physician will likely diagnose the person with GAD.

Get Treatment for GAD

The ADAA article acknowledges that GAD is treatable, and one of the most common forms of treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps people identify, understand and modify faulty thinking and behavior patterns. In doing so, patients can learn to manage their worries better. In addition to CBT, some people may require medication, but this act must be closely monitored by a healthcare professional. Lifestyle changes (such as practicing relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga and exercise) should also be included in the overall treatment plan.

Any anxiety disorder can make it very difficult to manage everyday life. When pressure builds too much and your anxiety disorder goes untreated, you are at risk for substance abuse to relieve your anxiety. Before you reach that point, you need to understand GAD; if you believe you are experiencing the symptoms, then get diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

Learn More About GAD

Please call our toll-free helpline now, as our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about GAD and treatment.