Nearly everyone will face anxiety in their life, it’s a normal part of being human. But what happens when it takes over your days? For people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, their experience can include debilitating mental and emotional effects and even physical symptoms.
The Difference Between Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Feeling Anxious
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) goes beyond feeling anxious. Many describe it as not only feeling worried but worrying about everything all the time. GAD can cause people to become so fixated on different worries and concerns that they are unable to focus on anything else. These feelings are so severe and excessive that they can impact the person’s day-to-day life and interfere with regular activities that most people do without thinking.
GAD will demonstrate various symptoms that a person can watch out for.
Symptoms of GAD can include:
- Fixating or obsessing over small or large concerns that are likely out of proportion to the event itself
- Inability to let go of a worry or concern
- Excessive worrying
- Inability to relax, feeling restless or on edge
- Feeling distress over basic decision making for fear of making the wrong choice
- Difficulty coping with uncertainty or indecisiveness
- Mentally carrying every possible outcome of a decision or situation to its possible negative conclusion
People with GAD also often can experience physical symptoms associated with their disorder.
Physical symptoms can include:
- Trouble Sleeping
- Being easily startled
- Muscle tension
- Trembling or feeling twitchy
- Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome
- Memory problems
It’s important to note that Generalized Anxiety Disorder is not the same as Panic Disorder, in which people experience recurring, unexpected and severe panic attacks.
Only a doctor can properly address and diagnose Generalized Anxiety Disorder. If you feel you are experiencing anxiety symptoms, make an appointment with your General Practitioner. It is helpful to mention that your appointment is about mental health assessment so they are aware in advance.
Your doctor will ask a variety of questions related to your anxiety. From here, he or she can gain a better understanding of the types of anxiety you are experiencing. Depending on your symptoms and situation, they may refer you to a psychiatrist in order to obtain a more accurate diagnosis.
If you suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, know that there are great treatment options available to help mitigate your symptoms. There are a wide variety of medications available to help with GAD such as Zoloft, Prozac, Buspirone, and many others. If you prefer alternatives to medication, supportive therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help. This type of therapy can help a patient examine negative thought patterns and introduce coping skills to slow the anxiety spirals typically associated with GAD.
Furthermore, experts suggest lifestyle changes to support GAD symptom reduction. These include healthy eating, physical activity, meditation, reducing caffeine intake, as well as avoiding recreational drugs and alcohol.
When Generalized Anxiety Disorder leads to Substance Abuse and Addiction
The debilitating symptoms associated with GAD often lead people to self-medicate in order to escape their constant feelings of worry and fear. As such, it is a common Co-occurring Disorder seen with substance abuse and addiction. However, it’s important to note that substances like alcohol and drugs do not address the root cause of the problem. Often people who self-medicate have not sought medical attention for their condition and self-medicating rarely achieves the effect sufferers desire. Not only that but it leads to a whole host of other problems in the form of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and addiction.
Co-Occurring Disorders create a vicious cycle unless treated holistically. Treatment for only addiction means the underlying reason for using has not been addressed, and when the person still feels the perpetual anxiety after treatment, they are likely to relapse and go back to using. Similarly, if only the anxiety is treated, the person is still suffering from addiction. Addiction typically fuels mental health disorders and can exacerbate the underlying mental health issues. Thus, comprehensive mental health and addiction treatment, usually in an established treatment center, are necessary to address the root cause and ensure the best chance for long-term recovery.
If you are struggling with substance use or addiction of any kind and are in need of help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Harmony Recovery Group specialize in treating substance use disorder, addiction and co-occurring disorders to help you achieve the life you deserve to live. Contact us anytime, we are here to help.