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Being anxious and suffering from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) are two different things. Here’s what you need to know about GAD.
As humans we all experience anxiety. It is our body’s natural response to stress. Although the intensities may vary, the unpredictability of the future can indeed make each of us nervous about what’s to come.
Often, you must have faced anxiety before your exams, interviews or stage performances. I know I have. In fact, in order to avoid my anxiety, I ended up giving up on too many opportunities and events as a child and a teen.
But does this mean that I was suffering from an anxiety disorder then? No.
When the feelings of apprehension, worry or fear become chronic, and end up interfering with our daily activities is when anxiety may be turning in to an anxiety disorder. There are multiple types of anxiety disorders. But right now, I will be talking about the Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
People with Generalised Anxiety Disorder often worry about one thing or the other instead of one specific event and absolutely can’t seem to relax. The anxiety they face is completely out of proportion to the danger present. Their survival mode is ON even during instances when not necessary. For example – Normal activities like going to the gym, sleeping or waking up from the bed caused me immense anxiety and panic attacks.
‘Just how your heart starts racing and you get out of breath in dangerous situations (body’s flight or fight response), my body reacts in the same way. But it does so even in situations that aren’t life-threatening.’
There are many psychological and physical symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) that may cause changes in our behaviour and thought patterns. People suffering with it may continuously worry about the future and imagine themselves in situations that may not even occur.
Is generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) real or just something in the minds of the ones who are weak?
GAD is a brain disorder that occurs with a complex interaction of biological, social and psychological factors. It is important to note that mental illnesses including GAD have biological roots. This means that it is not how people react rather how their bodies react in certain situations after certain chemical imbalances occur in the brain.
The physical and psychological symptoms of this disorder are diverse and vary from person to person. And the existence of both at the same time makes it difficult for the person to figure out what was it that initiated their anxiety.
The psychological symptoms include excessive worrying, the inability to relax, the feeling of being scared or dreadful. It also includes consuming oneself with thinking only about the worst-case scenarios, having a difficulty in concentrating and constant irritability.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Medicines or the combination of both have evidently shown improvement in people. It has also helped people control their anxiety, including myself.
According to reports, Meditation and Relaxation techniques also help people manage their anxiety better. However, before practising all these techniques it is recommended to see a psychiatrist and then decide on the treatment course. It should depend on what the psychiatrist recommends and your own personal preferences.
From my personal experience, relaxation techniques worsened my breathlessness and did not help me control my thoughts. However, I sought treatment and am able to practice them (not that I do them regularly). I can practise them now since my therapist encourages mindfulness as a form of treatment. So it is also important that you find yourself the right therapist.
If there is anything you would like to ask or know, feel free to drop a comment.
Author’s Note: I am not a mental health professional. This article has been written after doing extensive research and having dealt with an anxiety disorder myself.
Picture credits: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
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