You are having difficulty concentrating. You try to relax because you’re tired, but as soon as you fall asleep, your eyelids snap open. Thoughts race around in your mind in a continuing never-ending circle. Another thing, you could be blow drying your hair and if your spouse pops in to ask you a question, you jump 10 feet in the air startled. What is going on with you? You, my friend, may be experiencing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
Symptoms may develop s l o w l y
They can start in your teen years or when you’re a young adult. If you have this disorder, symptoms rise and fall according to your levels of stress. If things are going well, then your anxiety will be mild, manageable and hardly noticeable. If stress factors in your life accelerate, so will your anxiety level accelerate. A person with generalized anxiety disorder can normally function both socially and in the work environment as long as nothing stresses them. However, if the anxiety levels rise, even carrying out a simple chore can be difficult and overwhelming if not downright impossible.
Symptoms Can Vary
You may think you have another illness because the generalized anxiety disorder symptoms do vary. Your symptoms can range from fatigue with headaches to muscle tension and muscle aches. You can have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and be irritable. You can have trembling, nausea, sweating and twitching. You startle easily, people don’t even have to yell ‘boo’ to make you jump. To find out if you have this disorder, when you go to your doctor, talk about all your symptoms; even write them down if you have to.
Also make a list of when you do NOT have the symptoms. The doctor may want to do an exam to rule out other causes and possibilities. If your doctor does decide you have generalized anxiety disorder symptoms, he may give you a name of a mental health specialist to make a determination on whether you have GAD.
‘Maybe I’m Crazy’
Keep in mind that going to a mental health specialist doesn’t mean you’re crazy. It mainly means you have symptoms that are bothersome and need help.
Look for a therapist who can help you change your thinking and behaviors. The great thing about this is that you can learn to change some of the generalizations you make- what you want to find are counterexamples. Look for experiences that are different than ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘everytime’, ‘everyone’. It can be helpful to think very specifically about who, what, when, where. It can help you think of your experiences as a process that can be changed or varied. You can learn how to react and behave in situations which can cause you stress and anxiety. Say you have a panic and anxiety attack when you are driving because you’re afraid you’re lost.
You can learn to deal with the cold sweat, the nausea, pounding heart, and twitches that can develop from this that you could not control before. You can learn breathing techniques to use to calm down your generalized anxiety disorder symptoms. It will help you think more clearly so that you can stop and ask for directions if you’re lost or, just turn around and go back the way you came. It sounds simple to someone who doesn’t have this disorder, but for sufferers with general anxiety disorder symptoms it doesn’t seem simple. Living with these symptoms isn’t easy, but it is manageable. Once you realize what you have, learning how to deal with it and how to live with it is the next step!