Articles for the Month of March 2015

Do I Have General Anxiety Disorder?

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.

Photo by Dreamstime

Why “Get Over It” Is Bad Advice! Understanding Grief


Why “Get Over It” Is Bad Advice to Give to Someone Who is Grieving


Understanding grief

Grief is one of the most powerful and most universal feelings we as humans experience. Grief, which can be defined as “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss,” is most commonly thought of in terms of endings—usually the ending of a life or of a relationship.

One commonly accepted explanation of the grieving process is the Kubler-Ross model, more commonly known as the five stages of grief. This theory explains grief as a chronological progression of five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While the feelings associated with grief are indeed universal, each person experiences grief differently. One individual may spend months or years in one particular stage of grieving, while another individual may need only a few days to process the event and move forward.  Not everyone experiences all five of these emotions, while others may but not in any particular order.

Possibly the worst advice to give to someone who is grieving is to simply “get over it.” Not only is this suggestion extremely insensitive; it may also prove to be impossible. Many people, while they are able to cope and eventually move on with their lives, will never truly “get over” a loss. The pain felt as a result of losses may be compartmentalized and contained—but it may also be carried by a person for the rest of his or her life.

Coping with grief

How a person internalizes their grief will depend largely on several factors, including: the level of closeness the person shared with the individual who is no longer in his or her life, the individual’s personality and character traits, the mental and physical stability of the individual, the individual’s age and stage in life, and the circumstances surrounding the loss. It will be helpful to examine each of these factors in more detail:

Level of Closeness Equal Level of Grief

People will cope with grief differently based on how close their relationship with the “lost” individual was. A person may experience grief and feel sadness if a distant relative or new acquaintance passes away, but the emotions will become magnified at the death of a parent or loss of a best friend.

Personality traits

Personality traits and disposition will largely affect the way a person experiences grief. Individuals who are sensitive and more susceptible to feeling emotional pain will likely have a more difficult time accepting loss and require more time in each grief stage. Certain people simply compartmentalize and process difficulty better than others; these individuals may find they need less time to grieve.

Mental and physical stability

The overall health of a grieving individual will also play a part in the length and severity of his or her grief. Individuals who are weakened by illness or who are suffering from conditions such as anxiety or depression will likely not grieve in the same way as an individual without such conditions.

Age and stage in life

Age and maturity greatly influence the way a person grieves. A small child with an unclear grasp on the concept of death will experience the grief stages differently than an elderly individual who has come to accept death as another part of life. Many situations, including the death of a parent or grandparent, become more anticipated as an individual grows older. Sudden, untimely deaths will have a particularly negative effect on younger individuals.

Circumstances surrounding loss

Typically, the more unexpected a loss, the greater impact it will have on a person. If the end of a romantic relationship was in sight for both parties, the breakup will not come as a shock. If an individual has been terminally ill for months or years, their death will likely be accepted and seen as a comfort, as the individual is no longer suffering.

The timing of grief

The most important thing to understand about grief is that it occurs on no specific timetable. Grief cannot and should not be confined to a certain number of days, months, or seasons. Individuals need to be allowed to process and experience their grief in the way that is right for them; the approach that works for one person is unlikely to work for the next. If you are supporting someone who is grieving, allow him or her an infinite amount of time. Encourage your loved ones to continue on with their lives and be sensitive, loving, and patient. Never advise anyone to just “get over it”—for you never know the extent of their grief.