What is General Anxiety: All You Need to Know

A General Anxiety Disorder may be what’s happening to you if you keep feeling stressful, tense, out of sorts all the time. But it is very hard to say whether it is just normal anxiety or it actually is a disorder. Today, we will try to figure out when you may be considered as under the general anxiety disorder, and how you can safeguard yourself against it.

You see, tension and anxiety are perfectly normal for day-to-day life. Indeed, to some extent they are actually needful, since they are basically our brain prioritizing things out. Anxiety occurs only around things we care deeply about — like someone we love, or something we depend on (like a job) for a living.

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What is General Anxiety Disorder

According to experts, “Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about events or activities.” [source: Wikipedia

Excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry

Translated to layman English that means, you have some level of general anxiety disorder if you do any one of the following:

  1. Get worried easily and suddenly.
  2. Can’t suppress the worry and work around it.
  3. Get worried even though there is no real reason to be worried about.
  4. Worry so much about trivial things that it’s affecting your health, sleep, or work performance.

You can be considered a patient of GAD if some of those are happening regularly for more than six months.

Note that general anxiety disorder and panic disorder have a lot in common, and sometimes they go hand-in-hand. But again, just like anxiety, panicking is also a part of normal life and should not be considered a disorder until you have it too much and/or for too long.

It is quite easy to stabilize general anxiety

It can be tough to live with general anxiety disorder, since you may not even know you have it. And it’s so unfair, when you think it can be fixed easily these days. Yes, that’s right! If you do have GAD, you are not doomed — it’s quite easy to stabilize yourself. 

We will see how to cure general anxiety disorder in another article. First, let’s find out what it looks like, so that you can see it coming.

General Anxiety Symptoms

The main symptom of general anxiety is worrying too much for too long for no reason. While that’s a rather flat description, most of everything else is just byproducts. 

Mental Symptoms

Here are a few key red signals in your head to look out for:

    • Persistent worrying. Can’t stop worrying.
    • Long-lasting history of worrying about everything.
    • Thinking out of proportion. Overthinking.
    • Always expecting the worst case scenarios.*
    • Depending strongly on the planned path and fearing any diversion off the plan.
    • Seeing danger in every situation, even if there aren’t any.
    • Fearing to face uncertain or unknown situations.*
    • Not taking any step fearing you’d take the wrong step.
    • Feeling keyed up all the time, restless. 
    • Feeling unable to stop thinking, as if the brain is going to explode.
    • Mind going blank when trying to concentrate.
    • Having out-of-body experiences, or, feeling that you really aren’t there.

Physical Symptoms

Other than the above, general anxiety can bring about physical issues as well. These include lack of sleep (most common), being tired or having unexpected fatigue aches, being nervous and jumpy, sweating uncommonly, and quick anger or low tolerance.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
There is another, rather bad physical symptom associated with general anxiety disorder. It is called the IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). In it, the patient’s stomach feels full as soon as s/he starts feeling anxious, and it may increase to some level of diarrhea or vomiting.

Basically, the guts of an IBS patient tries to empty itself any way possible when they worry. It is an extremely embarrassing thing, especially in work or social life. A GAD patient with IBS learns to worry about this as well as the reason to worry, so they are caught in a vicious loop. Fortunately, it is easy to cure as well.

*Note: some good level of those are normal, so don’t decide you have a problem just because you do those. Prepare for the worst case and unknown cases. Don’t worry.

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Common Objects of Anxiety

A patient of general anxiety disorder may worry about a thousand things, and it may shift from day to day — even hour to hour. But generally, the following key sectors are the centers of anxiety in our lives:

    • Health issues
    • Death (unrelated to health)
    • Family members — all or particular
    • Relationship progress
    • Financial situation
    • Workplace socialization
    • Work performance/responsibility

Needless to say, if you want to beat your anxiety issues, you will have to lower your stress levels in these areas. There may be a lot of ways to do this — but the one way you should not be trying to do it is to think “what’s the worst that can happen” and try to live with that scenario. As you can see in the symptoms list, that is exactly another way you’re welcoming GAD. 

Why Does General Anxiety Happen

Short answer? Hard to say. Some scientists have the opinion that it is a hereditary thing; up to 30-40% general anxiety cases are hereditary. But that is hard to determine; since in these hectic days, how will you know that your mother’s anxiety is normal, or forced on by the situation, or a sickness? It’s hard to say. Better ask a doctor.

It is generally agreed upon among mental health doctors, that people with more anxiety have more brain activity. Our brains have the anxiety/fear/emotion centers in the frontal part; that is, in the amygdala, insula and the frontal cortex. On a brain scan, that part of the brains of GAD patients light up like a christmas tree; with jerky, erratic, excessive activity.

Anxious people have stronger and faster brain activity than most others; unfortunately all that power is being wasted in worrying

How to Fix General Anxiety

First let us inform you that most cases of self-diagnosed general anxiety cases aren’t that at all; they are something else (we will talk about that another day). However, most verified GAD patients can be cured by simple cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Oftentimes it is seen that just being able to talk freely about your issues solves the anxiety part of the issue. There are places and groups where a safe space is given for anyone who wants to “take a load off” their chest.

More serious cases of general anxiety disorder require some sort of medicinal treatment. There are many new meds these days that can calm yourself and give you a more streamlined brain activity.

Other than that, some physical therapies, like relaxing massages and soothing music also helps, for those who believe in holistic healing. After all, your mind is well capable of fixing itself — all you have to do is believe in yourself.

We will talk about how to cure general anxiety in more detail another day.

General anxiety disorder can be a terrible thing, consuming your whole life slowly if untreated. If you feel you have anxiety issues, please see a licensed mental health practitioner (a psychologist or a psychiatrist) immediately!

Author: Swarna Karmakar

Swarna is an experienced content writer and marketer from Kolkata, India. His amateur interest in psychology, born out of mental health troubles he has experienced himself and among his friends and family, has led him to the dream that is Our Clear Minds. He works as a Senior Content Writer, and enjoys instrumental music and science fiction books in his pass time.

One Reply to “What is General Anxiety”

  1. Very helpful article… My friend suffers from this, I think… How do I tell him

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