By Cathy Neville, LPC, on March 24, 2015
Are you worried about the way you worry?
Does it seem like you go from “kind of concerned” to “overwrought” in a just few moments time?
Why can’t you turn off the running list of anxious thoughts?
How can you tell if your overreaction is reason for action?
To help determine whether you’re a normal worrier, or dealing with a disorder, ask a few questions.
Is your worry extreme? Are worries unacceptable and disproportionate for the situation?
Is your worry unwelcome? Do you normally summon your worrisome thoughts, or is their occurrence out-of-control and intrusive?
Is your worry persistent? Are you able to redirect your thoughts or does anxiety overwhelm your attempts to focus elsewhere?
Is your worry debilitating? Can you function despite your worries?
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Everybody feels the need to fight or flee at times.
Anxiety is meant to warn and protect.
General Anxiety Disorder takes over.
GAD is the propensity to worry in a way that is constant, intrusive, and exhausting.
It is a round-the-clock, unprovoked fear-fest that won’t let up.
Do you drain your mental energy worrying why your spouse is late from work?
Do you stay up all night fretting that you have too much to do?
Do you worry that you’ll be too tired to do it?
Do you feel tense and physically taxed from living in a constant state of “high alert?”
Determine if GAD is Fueling Your Anxiety
GAD can be a challenge to pin down because certain days, certain times of the day, or certain activities during the day, can relieve or exacerbate the symptoms.
Even everyday stressors can aggravate generalized anxiety disorder.
Not everyone experiences GAD the same way. Symptoms combine and disperse depending on the person.
Still, there are some general GAD indicators that impact the way you experience anxiety, behave, and feel physically that may encourage you to discuss this disorder with your therapist.
GAD and Your Mind
Anxiety is a well-run machine in your head. It keeps going and going. Dread, fear, tension, and worry are mental gears that wind and interlock to keep anxious thoughts spinning.
You feel powerless to stop the worrying. Pushing against your thoughts is frightening. Avoiding your thoughts seems impossible.
Your anxious thoughts are bullies. They bust their way into your mind whenever they want. You feel like you can’t escape them.
Uncertainty is unacceptable. You need to know as much as you can know at all times. You want to know what’s around every corner. Figuratively and literally.
Something bad is always around those corners. You live with a constant state of unpreparedness and dread.
GAD and Your Behavior
You don’t do downtime. Relaxation just doesn’t seem possible.
Concentration doesn’t last. Focus is difficult to sustain.
Procrastination is a habit. It is the way you cope with the fear that you’ll never get done with anything.
Avoidance and withdrawal interfere with relationships. They seem to make life easier to manage.
GAD and Your Body
Tense shoulders. Muscle spasms. Migraines. Aches and pains are the result of constant tension.
Sleep disturbances wreck your ability to rest. The lights won’t turn off or stay off in your mind.
You’re jumpy and easily rattled. You feel restless and on edge.
Worry seems to actually live in your stomach. Cramps, nausea, and diarrhea are commonplace.
If you think Generalized Anxiety Disorder is at the root of your worry, don’t suffer it alone.
Why not work through your worry with a therapist?
He or she can show you ways to identify thoughts that are getting in your way and help you develop strategies for effective worry relief.
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