Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Do you consider yourself to be a "traditional worrier" or do grey skies usually equal F5 tornados in your mind? Do family or friends frequently tell you to “Stop worrying!” or “Calm down!” Have you attempted to curb your worrying tendencies, but find doing so almost impossible?
If you or someone you love tends to be an aggressive worrier, keep reading to learn about a common mental health condition which centers around the big W- worry.
According to the DSM5, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, (GAD) is characterized by chronic anxiety that occurs more days than not, for at least six months, yet does not consist of panic attacks, phobias or obsessions. A person struggling with GAD simply experiences persistent worry and anxiety without the complex features which often accompany other anxiety related disorders.
Meeting criteria for GAD requires that the worry and anxiety persist despite efforts to stop. Also, the worry must focus on two or more stressful ideas, events or life circumstances. Some examples of these include worrying about health, school/work performance, finances and/or relationships.
Persons suffering from GAD tend to spend a large amount of time worrying about a multitude of events and situations, though only two are required for diagnostic purposes. The frequency and intensity of the worry often tends to be out of proportion to the actual event or likelihood of the event/situation actually taking place.
In addition to persistent worry, GAD involves having at least three of the following symptoms:
Restlessness-feeling keyed up and full of energy
Feeling tired- easily fatigued
Difficulties falling or staying asleep
Difficulty concentrating or staying on task
GAD can develop at any age. In children, the focus of worry and fretting tends to be associated with peers, school, extra-curricular activity performance or relationships of the child’s parents.
In adults, the focus of worry can vary widely and might include real or perceived, future situations or events.
As stated earlier, though no specific phobias are associated with GAD, several central fears are commonly known to sustain the disorder including but not limited to various fears such as;
Fear of failure
Fear of not being good enough
Fear of abandonment or rejection
Fear of losing control of a situation or relationship
Fear of death/disease
Fear of not being able to cope- victim mentality
GAD can be exacerbated, or made worse, by stressful life events including loss of a loved one, relationship conflict, increased demands on the job, etc.
The causes of GAD range from neurobiology to prolonged exposure to extremely stressful situations to issues stemming from childhood such as; parental abandonment, excessive parental expectations, rejection and or being raised by parents who often unknowingly model worrying type behaviors for their children.
If constant worry dominates your daily life, if persistent fretting leads to significant distress and interferes with your ability to carry out daily tasks with ease, if you fret because a dinosaur might appear in your rear view mirror- any second, seek professional help.
First, by scheduling an appointment with your primary care doctor to rule out any possible physical ailments. Second, by locating a licensed mental health therapist in your area who has experience treating anxiety disorders. A multitude of effective, outpatient, treatment options exist for GAD, some of which you can learn more about here. Thanks for reading!~
Disclaimer: I almost didn't use the dinosaur picture for this blog post because driving phobias do exist. More importantly, the information contained in this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any health condition.
Misti Luke, LCSW maintains a small private counseling practice in beautiful Broken Bow, Oklahoma. For correspondence, email@example.com