Worry and nervousness are feelings that we all experience from time to time. Your heart may beat faster, your face may flush, and you may have a sensation of “butterflies” in your stomach. This type of anxiety is healthy; it keeps us from entering or remaining in situations that are dangerous or threatening to our lives. This anxiety is also passing, and usually resolves itself once we’re out of the situation of danger.
Anxiety becomes a problem when you experience excessive worry and nervousness over normal, everyday things, for an extended period of time (usually more than 6 months). People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) often fear the worst when it comes to relationships, finances, employment, or health. Their fear is persistent and is not usually realistic, which causes them to experience distress that makes it hard to enjoy life.
GAD is common and can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, and socioeconomic status. While the exact cause of GAD is unknown, a number of factors may contribute to the condition, including your brain chemistry, a buildup of stressful life events, and certain predisposing personality traits.
There are several symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, including:
- Sleep difficulties
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty concentrating and/or focusing
Without treatment, the symptoms of GAD may continue to interrupt your quality of life. However, treatment can be effective in supporting people with GAD to get back to enjoying life. Here are some next steps to help you get started:
- Relaxation strategies can help to decrease the physical symptoms of anxiety. The more you feel your heart racing and your breathing changing, the harder it is to calm yourself down. Try to breathe deeply.
- Counselling with a mental health provider has been proven to be very effective in helping individuals overcome anxiety issues. Not only can a trained counsellor help teach you the strategies needed to help stop the anxiety cycle, they can also help you use them correctly.
- Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. You should consult your doctor to choose the treatment that is best for you.
Content adapted with permission from Dalton Associates.
Statistics Canada. (2015). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-619-m/2012004/sections/sectionb-eng.htm#a4
National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved from http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/understanding-anxiety-disorders/#.V1G-CPkrKUk