This article is co-written by Trudi Griffin, LPC. Trudy Griffin is a licensed psychotherapist from Wisconsin. Received a master's degree in clinical psychotherapy from Marquette University in 2011.
The number of sources used in this article is 13. You will find a list of them at the bottom of the page.
Living with anxiety disorder is not easy. Even harder to deal with him alone. In difficult moments, friends and relatives can support a person, but sometimes the very idea of confessing everything only aggravates anxiety. Learn how to tell friends about anxiety disorder and get the support you need.
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Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by a persistent sense of anxiety that is unrelated to specific people or situations. So, for example, in the norm we can worry about some significant events (wedding, graduation, entering a new job, etc.), but when the situation goes away or is somehow resolved, this feeling goes away. In the case of anxiety disorder, we experience severe stress and anxiety permanently, regardless of what exactly happens in our lives.
However, anxiety disorder can take various forms (panic attacks, phobias, social fears), and we cannot always independently determine whether our anxiety is “normal” or whether we need the help of specialists. This list of signs of anxiety disorder will help you better qualify your condition and, if necessary, seek the help of a doctor or psychologist.
You worry too often
In the case of generalized anxiety disorder, you worry too much - on important occasions and secondary. How to understand that there is too much anxiety in our lives? According to experts, the main criterion for generalized anxiety disorder is when anxious thoughts appear almost every day (or most of the week) for six months.
Anxiety disrupts your usual course of life
In the case of generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety is so pronounced that it interferes with your daily activities and even causes fatigue. “The difference between anxiety disorder and normal anxiety is that in the first case, emotions bring you a lot of suffering and disrupt the usual rhythm of life,” notes Sally Winston, co-director of the Maryland State Institute of Stress Disorders in Towson.
You have a bad dream
Insomnia, problems falling asleep or waking up can be associated with a wide range of health problems - both physical and mental. However, if before going to bed you are regularly tormented by obsessive disturbing thoughts about some kind of “chronic” problems (money, health of loved ones, ordinary tasks at work) or insignificant things, then you may have generalized anxiety disorder. According to some reports, half of people with this disorder have trouble sleeping.
Your muscles are tense
Another sign of generalized anxiety disorder is the presence of constant tension in one or more parts of the body. These can be the muscles of the jaw, neck, constantly clenched fists, etc. This symptom can be so persistent and widespread that many people live with it for a long time and do not even notice it.
According to Sally Winston, regular muscle relaxation exercises can help relieve tension in the body, and at the same time even out the emotional sphere. However, in the event of any stressful events or injuries, muscle spasm may return again.
You have chronic gastrointestinal problems
Anxiety disorder often manifests itself as a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. For example, one of the most common psychosomatic problems of this kind is irritable bowel syndrome. This is a condition characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. “This is anxiety in the digestive tract,” the specialist notes. Irritable bowel syndrome is not always associated with anxiety. However, anxiety and gastrointestinal problems very often occur together, interfering with each other. Thus, the intestines are very sensitive to psychological stress, and, conversely, physical discomfort with chronic digestive problems can make a person even more anxious.
You're prone to perfectionism
According to Sally Winston, striving for ideality in everything "goes hand in hand with anxiety disorder." “If you constantly criticize yourself or you have a lot of proactive anxiety that you will make a mistake, then you probably have an anxiety disorder,” she says. Perfectionism is especially common in the context of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which has long been regarded as an anxiety disorder. In this case, you can constantly, obsessively doubt yourself or the correctness of your actions: “Have I turned off the iron?”, “Do I look good enough?”, Etc. According to the expert, people with OCD have no tolerance for uncertain situations. They believe that only being 100% confident in themselves and their actions will they feel good and calm.
The best you can do is listen
“No one is demanding any answers from you. You cannot “cure” us, even if you really want to. Just listen. Make it clear that you are nearby and ready to help. Do not be too intrusive if you see that it is unpleasant for us, but do not miss the moment when it is important for us that someone hugs us, ”- L. Allison.
Your support means everything to us.
“I have been dating a young man for more than a year. I know that it’s not always easy to love me. I often get on his nerves, and he cannot understand why I behave this way. But when I am immersed in endless doubts and anxious thoughts, it’s important for me to know that he accepts our differences and continues to love me even in those moments when it’s hard for me to love myself, ”Melissa H.
Do not be offended by our behavior in difficult days
“Remember that our anxiety is not connected with you, even if it seems to you that you have provoked it now. We just feel a terrible strain. Part of the reason for anxiety is related to the functioning of our brain, and now nothing can be done about it. But there are external factors that can be affected. Help us get distracted, this will help alleviate anxiety. For example. offer a walk, ”- Ryan N.
Remember that anxiety is different
“My husband and I both suffer from severe depression and anxiety. At the same time, our symptoms manifest themselves in different ways, and what helps me does not necessarily help him. In difficult periods, I need physical contact, approval and support. And he needs to be left alone. If you can understand what a partner needs in difficult times, this will strengthen the relationship, ”- Melissa M.
We are very grateful to you for your patience.
“Patience is one of the most important virtues of a person. You do not always understand our anxiety, but the main thing is that you still show love and care. When my young man and I come to a party, he comes up from time to time and quietly asks if I feel normal. This is an easy way to take care. ”- Christina R.
Read about anxiety disorders to better understand us.
“Learn more about the disorder we suffer so that you understand our experiences and know that for us they are no less real than physical illness. Remember what triggers our anxiety attacks, ”- Melissa J.
Take our experiences seriously
“Before my anxiety disorder was diagnosed and treated, a couple of times during a panic attack it seemed to me that I had a heart attack or a blood clot. Both times, my fiancé took me to the hospital and generally took this situation very seriously. He had no doubt that something was wrong with me, even when the doctors said that it was not life threatening. And for me it meant a lot. Anxiety sometimes paralyzes, and it’s important that there is someone who does not dismissively say, “Yes, this is nonsense,” Erica K.
Be on a tight day
“I meet with a very understanding young man who knows that sometimes I need to hide in a closet and sit there for a while. He even bought a special blanket that brings me on such occasions. If I am so tormented by such intense anxiety that I cannot force myself to get out of this safe shelter, he sits there with me, ”- Pixie M.