Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?
What is GAD?
Ask yourself this question: How often do you feel calm and relaxed? If you can’t say “most of the time”, you might have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety and worry are normal parts of life. But it is not normal to feel anxious and worried all or most of the time. Most anxiety disorders begin in response to real life stressors. Our bodies’ normal stress response turns on to help us handle difficult or dangerous situations, but then turn off when the danger is passed. For approximately 10% of us however, once the stress response is turned on, we have difficulty turning it off. This condition is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD.
What does being “anxious” feel like?
The overactive stress response system in individuals with GAD can lead to symptoms in almost every part of our body. We can experience irregular breathing patterns. This can be manifested by short of breath, feeling as if you are holding your breath, frequent “sighing” (having to take a particularly deep breath) or even, at times, hyperventilating or breathing too fast. Since the stress response can cause our bodies to release adrenaline, individuals with GAD can experience symptoms of heart palpitations, rapid heartbeats, sweaty palms, dry mouth, and hand tremor. Our digestive system is also strongly affected by anxiety. Nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pains are common in GAD. Anxiety disorders such as GAD have been identified in most individuals diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Treatment of the anxiety disorder will often lead to a marked reduction in IBS symptoms.
Typical GAD Symptoms
- Excessive worry—difficulty letting go of problems
- Overanalyzing problems
- Difficulty falling to sleep because “My mind won’t shut off”
- Often imagining the worst happening
- Difficulty concentrating
- Rarely feeling relaxed or calm
- Persistent nervousness
- Frequently irritable or moody
- Feeling worn out, particularly in the afternoon
- Startling easily
- Feeling “on edge” or restless
- Muscle tension (particularly in neck and shoulders)
- Tension headaches
- Tremor or shakiness
- Teeth grinding
- Abnormal or irregular breathing
- Heart palpitations
- Tightness in your chest
- Diarrhea, constipation or both
- Dry mouth
- Frequent need to urinate
- Sweating excessively or having hot flashes
Does this sound familiar? Take a free adult anxiety screening.