GAD generally develops slowly and oftentimes begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Some common signs of GAD include:
- Inability to get rid of concerns
- Difficulty relaxing
- Trouble concentrating
- Experiencing your mind going blank
- Expecting the worst out of a situation
- Irrational or exaggerated fears
- Worrying about excessive worrying
- Difficulty handling uncertainty
GAD can manifest itself in a variety of physical symptoms. These symptoms can differ from person to person and may be experienced in various degrees at different times. Symptoms are often the worst during times of stress or change. People with GAD are often high functioning when their anxiety level is mild, however may have difficulty carrying out daily activities when anxiety is high. Typical symptoms include:
- Muscle tension
- Muscle aches
- Trouble swallowing
- Trembling, twitching
- Having to use the bathroom frequently
- Excessive sweating
- Feeling out of breath
- Hot flashes
- Sleep disturbance
- May worsen conditions such as eczema and psoriasis
- Psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is effective at helping to identify, understand and modify destructive thought and behavior patterns. Therapy helps people with GAD learn how to gain control of their anxiety.
- Medication – Antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds may be prescribed to treat GAD, often in combination with psychotherapy. Consideration of medication should be discussed with your doctor to ensure appropriate prescription.
- Exercise – Helps to improve your mood and reduce stress. Developing a routine to include daily physical activity can help to lessen anxiety.
- Yoga and Meditation – Many find that such relaxation techniques can ease anxiety.
- Diet – Making sure you are eating a healthy balanced diet may help to reduce anxiety.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine – These substances can often worsen symptoms of anxiety.
How to Ask for Help
Talking about feelings and worries with family and friends can be difficult but creating a strong support group can help to alleviate symptoms. Discuss with a doctor or a therapist about creating a treatment plan and a healthy self-care plan. Many therapists specialize in treating individuals with anxiety and related disorders. Some find support groups and self-help publications helpful to learn more about the disorder and ways to reduce symptoms.