What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
People with GAD may:
- Worry excessively about everyday things
- Have trouble controlling their worries or feelings of nervousness
- Know that they worry much more than they should
- Feel restless and have trouble relaxing
- Have a hard time concentrating
- Startle easily
- Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Tire easily or feel tired all the time
- Have headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains
- Have a hard time swallowing
- Tremble or twitch
- Feel irritable or “on edge”
- Sweat a lot, feel lightheaded, or feel out of breath
- Have to go to the bathroom frequently
Children and teens with GAD often worry excessively about:
- Their performance in activities such as school or sports
- Catastrophes, such as earthquakes or war
- The health of others, such as family members
Adults with GAD are often highly nervous about everyday circumstances, such as:
- Job security or performance
- The health and well-being of their children or other family members
- Being late
- Completing household chores and other responsibilities
Both children and adults with GAD may experience physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, or shortness of breath that make it hard to function and that interfere with daily life.
Symptoms may fluctuate over time and are often worse during times of stressfor examplewith a physical illness, during school exams, or during a family or relationship conflict.
Stop Worrying By Maintaining A Regular Sleep Schedule
Insomnia is a common side effect of chronic worry. When your mind is running wild, it can be tough to relax and get enough sleep. While you may feel like staying up will help you solve your worries, youre often better off with a restorative nights sleep.
Without sleep, minor worries can trigger a stress response that perpetuates for days or weeks in a row.
Heres how to stop worrying and finally get some sleep:
- Do a quick meditation or mindfulness exercise before bed
- Drink a cup of calming tea and read a book right before you go to sleep
Learn To Avoid Procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and avoid procrastinating.
Procrastination may harm your productivity and leave you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality .
A study in 140 medical students in China linked procrastination to increased stress levels. The study also associated procrastination and delayed stress reactions with more negative parenting styles, including punishment and rejection .
If you find yourself procrastinating regularly, it may be helpful to get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time. Switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful in itself.
If you find yourself regularly procrastinating, staying on top of your to-do list may help ward off related stress.
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Name What Youre Feeling
When youre experiencing an anxious episode, you may not realize whats going on until youre really in the thick of it.
Recognizing anxiety for what it is may help you calm down quicker.
Name that this is anxiety not reality and that it will pass, says Kim Hertz, a psychotherapist at New York Therapy Practice. When you are in a heightened state of anxiety, you want to disrupt that cycle, and for some people, thought-stopping techniques are effective and as simple as saying stop to the internalized messaging that heightens anxiety.
In other words, consider recognizing that what youre feeling is anxiety and talking yourself through it.
Embrace absolute truths, says Steven Sultanoff, clinical psychologist and professor at Pepperdine University. I will get through this one way or another.
Naming your sensations and feelings may help you step away from them. This is anxiety, it is not you and it wont last forever.
Six Simple Habits That Defeat Anxiety
Deanne Repich, Director: National Institute of Anxiety and Stress
If youre like most anxiety sufferers, you probably spend much of your day wrestling with physical symptoms, feeling afraid, or even hiding your anxious feelings from others. When stressors arise your racing heart, trembling, dizziness, obsessive thoughts and other symptoms take over.
Anxiety can keep you feeling trapped and once you feel this way, its difficult to know how or if you can ever feel better.
If you suffer from anxiety, take heart. Studies show that simple anxiety-reducing habits can go a long way toward improving how you feel.
Here are six simple habits you can use to defeat anxiety and take back control of your life.
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How To Stop Anxiety And Unwanted Thoughts
- Persistent, unwanted thoughts are common in all forms of anxiety
- With obsessive-compulsive disorder, unwanted thoughts are one of the primary symptoms
- Examples of the types of unwanted thoughts can vary considerably
- Its possible to use small, easy to implement strategies to reduce or stop unwanted thoughts
- When those smaller strategies do not work, a more comprehensive anxiety reduction strategy will be necessary
The Effective Habit: When You Feel Anxious You Keep Doing What You Were Doing Anywaythe Anxiety Habit: When You Feel Anxious You Spend Your Time Differently Than You Normally Do You Stop Doing Certain Activities
This is one of the most important habits to know. When someone with an anxiety problem feels anxious, they treat this as something that MUST change before they can do anything else. They therefore might stop working, seeing friends, or exercising until they can calm themselves down. Only then will they continue on with their day. This leads to shutting down, inactivity, more anxiety, and depression because avoidance keeps anxiety going in the long run.
When people who dont have an anxiety problem feel anxious, they dont let it stop them from doing anything. They keep right on going, in spite of the anxiety. They accept that some anxiety is a normal part of life and by not letting it change how they spend their time, they prevent it from becoming a persistent problem.
If you find yourself doing more of the Anxiety Habits, try making a lifestyle change towards the Effective Habits. If you consistently use these strategies, you will no longer be doing the things that fuel the anxiety, and it will eventually get better because of your changed behavior.
Interested in learning some of the most common and most effective strategies I teach my clients for dealing with anxiety and worry? Check out my self-help video series, How to Stop Overanalyzing, with over 3 hours of content covering the skills I teach to almost all of my clients in the first 5 therapy sessions.
About Dr. Stein
How to Stop Overanalyzing
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How To Overcome Fear And Anxiety These 7 Steps Can Help
The saying goes the only thing we have to fear is fear itself but theres a lot of scary things out there. Knowing how to overcome fear and anxiety is crucial. While managing our fear and anxiety well and knowing the difference between the two is important to our mental health and career success.
Find What Relaxes You
There are already things in your life that relax you. You may find it beneficial to make a list of things you enjoy and that help you to relax so you can reference it when symptoms of anxiety arise. When you notice your anxiety rising turn to those activities to help stop symptoms before they escalate.
For example, if you find that a warm bath is relaxing, don’t wait, draw a bath, maybe light some candles or add a few nice scents and get in. Whether it’s a bath, a shower, skipping stones at a park, getting a massage – if it works, do it right away, rather than allowing yourself to become overwhelmed by your anxiety.
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Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day weekends included.
Your routine before going to bed also matters. Consider giving yourself wind-down times. For example, 20 minutes with no devices. Instead, you could read a book or take a bath.
Avoiding potential triggers, like watching TV or scrolling the news on your phone, is key.
Creating a sleep routine will help you fall asleep faster and reduce the chances that youll lie awake, worrying about unfinished tasks or the next morning.
Whats The Difference Between Fear And Anxiety
Fear symptoms and anxiety symptoms overlap in many ways, but the reasons they occur are different. Both fear and anxiety trigger the bodys stress response. However, fear usually occurs in the face of a real or immediate, tangible threat, while anxiety occurs in response to imagined danger.
Fear is a short-lived reaction, while anxiety can be ever-present. Both share physical sensations, like racing heart, muscle tension, a tingle or a cold chill, and increased breathing rate.
These physical sensations are part of the bodys fight-or-flight response. They prepare you to take quick action by diverting your resources to necessary functions.
Symptoms of fear include:
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Learn How To Manage Your Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue. When you have anxiety attacks, it’s often because your mind tends to spiral into negative thoughts – often without your control. Sometimes you can control this anxiety by keeping these thoughts at bay and learning to dismiss triggers that cause you anxiety.
For many, this is easier said than done. But there are many different strategies you can try that may be effective. These include:
A Question Checklist
When you feel anxious, have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that anxiety experience. The longer the checklist, the more you’ll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:
- Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
- What evidence is there that something is wrong?
- Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?
Affirmations not for everyone, but those that do use them find them to be very beneficial. Affirmations are things that you say to yourself to make yourself feel better. These include:
- I’m okay. This is just anxiety and I will get passed this .
- I have a great life and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
- My anxiety won’t control me.
Getting Used to Physical Symptoms
The latter is known as “exposure therapy” and there are countless ways to create exercises that will habituate you to your panic attack triggers.
Why Is It So Hard To Stop Worrying
Constant worrying can take a heavy toll. It can keep you up at night and make you tense and edgy during the day. And even though you hate feeling like a nervous wreck, it can still be so difficult to stop. For most chronic worriers, the anxious thoughts are fueled by the beliefsboth negative and positivethat you hold about worrying:
Negative beliefs about worry. You may believe that your constant worrying is harmful, that its going to drive you crazy or affect your physical health. Or you may worry that youre going to lose all control over your worryingthat it will take over and never stop. While negative beliefs, or worrying about worrying, adds to your anxiety and keeps worry going, positive beliefs about worrying can be just as damaging.
Positive beliefs about worry. You may believe that your worrying helps you avoid bad things, prevents problems, prepares you for the worst, or leads to solutions. Maybe you tell yourself that if you keep worrying about a problem long enough, youll eventually be able to figure it out? Or perhaps youre convinced that worrying is a responsible thing to do or the only way to ensure you dont overlook something? Its tough to break the worry habit if you believe that your worrying serves a positive purpose. Once you realize that worrying is the problem, not the solution, you can regain control of your worried mind.
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When Is My Anxiety Harmful
Identifying what sort of anxiety youre dealing with can be somewhat challenging because how ones body reacts to perceived danger can be entirely different compared to another person.
Its likely you heard anxiety as a blanket term for that general feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. Its often a feeling in response to an upcoming event that has an uncertain outcome.
Every person deals with it at one time or another, because its part of our brains response to a perceived danger even if that danger isnt real.
That said, there are times anxiety can get serious and turn into anxiety attacks that initially feel manageable and then gradually build up over a few hours.
Tip : Distinguish Between Solvable And Unsolvable Worries
Research shows that while youre worrying, you temporarily feel less anxious. Running over the problem in your head distracts you from your emotions and makes you feel like youre getting something accomplished. But worrying and problem solving are two very different things.
Problem solving involves evaluating a situation, coming up with concrete steps for dealing with it, and then putting the plan into action. Worrying, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions. No matter how much time you spend dwelling on worst-case scenarios, youre no more prepared to deal with them should they actually happen.
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When To Seek Immediate Care
Sometimes, anxiety can be overwhelming and it could lead you to experience great distress. This is natural and not uncommon. A therapist can help you find more effective ways to manage these emotions.
If your anxiety is persistent and intrusive, consider seeking the help of a professional. You can also check out our free anxiety quiz to find out whether what youre experiencing might be something more.
If youre feeling anxious, there are things you can do to help yourself calm down quickly. There are also lifestyle changes you can make that can help lower your stress levels and help you cope with potential triggers.
You might also find it helpful to talk to a therapist.
These resources might help:
Monitoring Your Own Reaction
So many of these unwanted thoughts are the result of the way you respond to them. When you feel shame or get upset at yourself for having them, you give them much more power and they’re more likely to affect your happiness and your mind.
You have to be careful, and try your best not to react this way. Force yourself as best you can to be “okay” with the fact that these thoughts occur. Remember, they’re just anxiety and they don’t mean anything. Once you cure your anxiety disorder the thoughts will go away. Until then, they’re just an inconvenience and nothing you should concern yourself with, no matter how fearful the thoughts are.
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Simple Steps To Feeling More Socially Confident
Social anxiety disorder is often misunderstood, and many people could be suffering in silence. Its much more than feeling shy and not wanting to speak up in big groups. It can really take control and impede your everyday life. Anxiety Care UK states that social anxiety is a common and distressing condition, with as many as 40 percent of the population suffering from it.
Young People With Social Anxiety
Experiencing social anxiety and fear of social interactions can make simple responsibilities almost impossible to overcome. An estimated 15 million American adults have social anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, with young adolescents who are transitioning to secondary school or college being particularly vulnerable. Its suggested that social anxiety disorder symptoms usually begin around the age of 13.
The good news is that there are ways to develop new habits to help ease and overcome your social anxiety.
1. Challenge your negative and anxious thoughts. At times it may feel like theres nothing you can do about the way you feel and how you think. In reality, though, there are a number of things that can help.
4. Create an exposure hierarchy. Identify and rate how each social situation makes you feel in terms of anxiousness. For example, 0 would mean no anxiety, and 10 would be a full-blown panic attack.
Quick Ways To Cope With Anxiety
If your anxiety is sporadic and getting in the way of your focus or tasks, there are some quick natural remedies that could help you take control of the situation.
If your anxiety is focused around a situation, such as being worried about an upcoming event, you may notice the symptoms are short-lived and usually subside after the anticipated event takes place.
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Prioritize Getting A Good Nights Rest
Sleep has been proven time and time again to be an important part of good mental health.
Even though a 2012 survey found that nearly a third of adults get less than 6 hours of sleep a night, the that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.
You can make sleep a priority by:
- only sleeping at night when youre tired
- not reading or watching television in bed
- not using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed
- not tossing and turning in your bed or going to another room if you cant sleep
- avoiding caffeine, large meals, and nicotine before bedtime
- keeping your room dark and cool
- writing down your worries before going to bed
- going to sleep at the same time each night