From car breakdowns on the freeway to sleeping through an alarm, life presents anxiety-inducing experiences that are simply part of everyday life. Everyone experiences temporary moments of anxiety that are almost always immediately relieved when the situation is resolved. Generalized anxiety disorder produces a different situation. For those experiencing this condition, anxiety is always present even when, apparently, there is nothing to be anxious about.
A laundry list of possible outcomes can cause anxiety. It is a pervasive and draining condition that never allows a person to completely relax. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Constant unnecessary worry
- Inability to relax
- Loss of concentration
- Worrying even about worrying so much
- Inability to make decisions
- Thinking all choices through to a negative conclusion
- Uncertain and indecisive
- A feeling of impending doom
Anxiety produces physical symptoms as well as emotional ones. An individual may feel tired, experience muscle tension or appear irritable. The anxious person may easily startle, have difficulty sleeping and experience sweating, headaches, nausea and or diarrhea. A person with generalized anxiety disorder may worry that something bad will happen to his or her loved ones even though there is no evidence to support such a thing.
The relentless presence of anxiety can generate the development of other diseases and disorders. Substance abuse may become a problem as a person turns to drugs or alcohol to relieve the constant tension. Depression may develop as an offshoot of worry and the inability to be in control of one’s emotions. It is particularly difficult for those with anxiety to relax to the point of sleep, potentially leading to insomnia. The perpetual stress can lead to heart disease, headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms.
A timid person who avoids all forms of danger may be more predisposed to anxiety than others. The disorder can be genetic and chances are that a close family member may also show anxiety symptoms. It is more commonly diagnosed in women than men. A truly anxious person will isolate themselves from friends, family and social occasions. The disorder takes a toll on family members as they struggle to help their loved one and are also obliged to explain their absence from social gatherings and other events. There is much misinformation about anxiety and people tend to believe it can be “shaken off.”
The good news is that treatment can really make a difference, so a person should seek it as soon as possible if worry becomes overwhelming and affects daily life and relationships. If depression accompanies anxiety or a person has turned to drugs or alcohol it’s time to visit a doctor. It is particularly important to seek help if suicidal thoughts or behaviors are present.
Following examination to rule out other causes, a family physician generally makes a referral to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other qualified clinician. Medication and competent therapy can be life-changing for a person with anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, only about one-third of anxiety sufferers receive treatment even though the condition is highly treatable. It would be unfortunate to continue to suffer when effective help is at hand. If a loved one is enduring anxiety, please call Florida Anxiety Helpline at any time to learn more about getting help today