Most people can turn off the worries of everyday life. Worrying can be constructive as it helps you find solutions to all types of problems. But worrying excessively that causes continual anxiety you cannot control, is not normal. It can develop into generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
Anxiety is a common problem in Australia with one in seven (around 14%) people experiencing an anxiety condition. Of that figure almost 3% develop GAD with around 6% of Australians developing GAD at some time during their life. Women are more commonly affected than men, and it usually develops at around 30, though all age groups are susceptible.
Excessive worry and anxiety on more days than not over at least six months is the main characteristic of GAD. You can worry about a range of different minor problems and events that have little likelihood of occurring. Another characteristic is the irrational worrying that something will happen to someone you love and a constant feeling of apprehension. Usually you will worry about what may happen in the future. This can include family problems, money, work or study, and health issues even though there is no reason to worry. And you will have trouble controlling your worrying.
GAD can become chronic but you may still function normally. If this is the case, it may go undetected for some time. Because you have been worrying for so long, you may not be able pinpoint how or why it began. People with GAD often think of themselves as natural worriers.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder Causes
It is not entirely known what causes GAD. But it could be a combination of the following:
- Learned behaviour. As you walk through life, you develop thinking patterns that become a habit. These are often influenced by family, environmental and social factors. For example, if you constantly worry over things that may never happen or minor issues, you may train your mind to worry incessantly without good reason.
- Changes in brain chemistry. Some research indicates that parts of the brain can functionally deteriorate; for example, the limbic system. But it is unknown whether the deterioration or changes cause the anxiety or if anxiety causes the changes to your brain.
- Personality traits. Personality traits such as shyness, emotional sensitivity, generally nervousness, being a perfectionist, not able to cope with frustration and feeling inhibited may put you at risk of developing GAD.
- Traumatic events. Experiencing traumatic events such as physical, mental or sexual abuse, the loss of a parent or loved one, a relationship breakdown, moving house or changing your job are examples that may put you at risk.
- Family history. If you develop GAD, there may be a history of mental illness in your family. You may inherit or learn the behaviour from your environment. While there may be a history of mental health issues in your family, it does not necessarily mean you will develop general anxiety.
Symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Have you more often than not over six months:
- Worried about small things and activities?
- Been unable to control your worrying?
- Found it difficult to deal with daily activities (work, family, social events) because of your anxiety levels?
Did you answer yes to all three questions? If so, did you also have at least three of the following occur:
- Had trouble focusing or concentrating?
- Found it difficult to sleep?
- Experienced muscle tension?
- Been restless or on edge?
- Became easily tired?
- Often irritable.
If your answer is yes, you may have GAD.
Difference Between General Anxiety and Normal Worry
A certain amount of worrying is normal. Most people worry about a job interview or money when they have unexpected bills to pay. The difference between GAD and normal worry is, that when you have GAD, your worrying is persistent, disruptive, intrusive and excessive.
|Normal Worry||Generalised Anxiety Disorder|
|It does not affect your daily activities and responsibilities.||Disrupts your job, activities, family or social life significantly.|
|You can control your worrying.||You cannot control your worrying.|
|When you worry it does not upset you.||Worrying causes extreme stress and distress.|
|You only worry about specific, realistic concerns.||You worry about almost everything and usually expect the worst outcome to occur.|
|When you worry it is only for a short time.||You worry excessively almost daily for at least six months.|
Strategies to Help you Cope with Generalised Anxiety Disorder
You can learn strategies to help you reduce or manage GAD. Following are some that may help you manage your symptoms and help you cope.
Use Structured Problem Solving
Use structured problem solving to turn pointless worrying into finding solutions. Start with small problems and only work on one at a time. As you get better at structured problem solving, use it to find solutions for more complex problems. Use the following steps to help you and write all the steps down as you go through each one:
- Precisely identify the problem; for example, I am afraid of driving on the freeway.
- Brainstorm all the possible solutions, no matter how absurd. Do not discount anything at this stage.
- Now assess each solution and evaluate the pros and cons of each one.
- Select the most suitable solution. It can be better to choose a solution you can implement straight away, even if it is not the best one. Try not to choose a solution that is hard to implement.
- Plan how to put the solution in place. Include things like:
- Possible difficulties and strategies to help you cope if they occur.
- Deadlines or time limits.
- Resources required such as money.
- Assistance from someone else.
- Rehearse the solution such as driving an alternative route to avoid the freeway.
- Set benchmarks to help you monitor and review your plan if the solution is working.
- Review the solution and adjust it when you need to.
Use Relaxation Techniques
When you worry excessively, it is likely you have trouble relaxing. Anxiety is not just a feeling, it is your body physically reacting to a perceived threat. It goes into flight or fight mode. This will make you light-headed, muscles become tense, you breathing gets faster and your heart rate races. The complete opposite happens when you relax. You cannot relax and be anxious at the same time. Learning relaxation techniques is a powerful tool to relieve your anxiety.
Relaxation techniques that are effective for relieving anxiety include:
- Progressively relaxing your body’s muscles. By relaxing your muscles progressively you relieve the muscle tension which gives you a break from what worries you. Systematically tense and relax your muscles starting at your feet and work up to your head. Your mind will relax as your body relaxes.
- Mindfulness meditation. It is well known that mindfulness meditation can change your brain in a positive manner as you train yourself to live in the moment. It acts on the prefrontal cortex on the left side of your brain. This is the area responsible for feeling joy and at peace.
- Practice deep breathing. When you feel anxious, your breathing is faster. This can make you breathless, dizzy and light-headed which increases your anxiety further. Learning deep breathing techniques can help you to calm down.
Exercise is a proven, natural strategy to help you manage anxiety symptoms. It relieves the tension in your body, reduces the stress hormones and boosts your endorphins and serotonin levels (the brain’s feel good chemicals). This can change your brain so it is more resilient and less prone to being anxious.
Get at least 30 minutes exercise three or four days a week for maximum effect. Good exercises include walking, running, dancing and swimming.
Techniques to Help you Calm Down Quickly
Use your senses to help calm your anxiety quickly:
- Smell. Breathe in the aroma of fresh coffee. Burn scented candles or incense. Go out into the garden to smell the roses.
- Sound. Listen to your favourite music and sing along. Go outside and listen to the sounds of nature.
- Touch. Cuddle your dog. Enjoy the breeze on your face. Feel comforted by wrapping yourself in a soft blanket.
- Taste. Enjoy a fresh cup of coffee or herbal tea. Eat a favourite treat and savour the taste of every bite.
- Sight. Look at things that relax you and make you smile — animal pictures on the internet, watch a sunset, photos of your family.
Brain Wellness Spa
Overcoming GAD can be difficult. It can affect all parts of your life and your relationships. When you are used to worrying about everything, it can become a hard habit to break. But you cannot manage the effects of GAD if you do not seek help.
GAD can be out of control when your worrying is excessive and you only ever expect the worst outcomes. If you do not prioritise treatment, it will continue to escalate. Until you do something to help change the way you see the world, anxiety will continue to negatively impact your life.
The Brain Wellness Spa is pioneering a new technique. A natural treatment that may help you cope with the symptoms and triggers of anxiety. It only requires for you to relax. Highly trained facilitators help you learn to recognise the triggers and how to manage them. This may help you take back control of your life. And you may notice an improvement after the first session. With some simple changes to your life, and with practice, you can learn to cope better.
If you are worrying excessively and your anxiety is out of control, it is time to turn it around. Time to do something positive. Seek help. Take back control. You do not have to go through it alone. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can start taking good care of your mental health. And get back to enjoying life.
If GAD causes you to struggle with everyday life, reach out to our professionals. When you are not coping, contact us. We can talk to you about how to get your life back on track. But if you reach a crisis point, call us immediately. We are here to support you.
We can work with you over the phone, via Skype or in our Spas. Book in today for my special introductory offer for just $49 (private health rebates apply) so you learn to control what worries you. We aim to help you cope with any mental health challenges and the anxiety that affects your life. Our facilitators may alleviate the effects of GAD so you start to take back control and enjoy life again.
Let me Help Alleviate the Effects of Generalised Anxiety Disorder
My Emotional Empowerment Program has helped many people for more than a decade. My aim is to help manage and cope with the excessive worrying you go through with GAD so you may start to feel better. This can give you a new hope for the future. A future filled with happiness, peace and contentment in weeks not years.
Book a free 25-minute telehealth consultation with Brain Wellness Spa founder, Terri Bowman. Or discover a seamless way that may help you manage your emotional and mental health by becoming a member. It will give you access to more than 75 audio programs that may help you to live an inspired life.
What are you waiting for? Try us now. You have nothing to lose.