If you’ve felt extreme anxiety for a while now, figuring out how to stop anxiety in your life is probably your primary concern. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most commonly diagnosed of all anxiety disorders. Everyone experiences anxiety throughout their lives at points, but GAD is more than your everyday concern.

Because of the persistent worry associated with GAD, it’s common for strugglers to experience impairment in their occupational and social functioning. Suppose chronic anxiety has interfered with your life and goals for a while now. In that case, it’s definitely something worth addressing (although only a trained mental health professional can determine if GAD is what’s going on).

If you’ve regularly asked yourself, “Why am I anxious?” lately, generalized anxiety disorder may be the cause. Roughly 5.7% of Adult Americans (numbered in the millions) will experience GAD during their lifetimes. So, you certainly aren’t alone in your struggles if this turns out to be your challenge. 

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

The National Institute of Mental Health defines generalized anxiety disorder like this: “Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of events or activities (e.g., work or school performance) that occurs more days than not, for at least 6 months.” 

GAD can begin during childhood or adulthood and requires treatment for affected individuals to regain a good quality of life. Also, there will be times you’ll identify a specific trigger for your anxiety and other times when you won’t. Genetics, your unique personality, and life experiences all can play a part in GAD surfacing in a person’s life too.

What Are Some Specific Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Although hearing that GAD ‘interferes with your life’ is helpful in a broad sense, it doesn’t adequately describe the specific challenges of those experiencing such high anxiety. Here are some of the common symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorder:

  • Overly difficult time handling unknowns 
  • Feeling like your mind goes blank 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nearly impossible to relax because you regularly feel on edge, restless, and keyed up
  • Tough to make decisions and you’re overly worried about making the wrong choice
  • Worry feels like your constant companion and seems impossible to let go. 
  • You find circumstances, events, and people threatening when there is no actual threat.
  • You obsess over worst-case scenarios and attempt to come up with solutions to these hypothetical problems.
  • Ongoing worry and anxiety about most or all areas of life that are greater than they should be given the situation

How GAD Affects You Physically

It would be nice if GAD only affected your mental faculties and left your physical body alone. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works since peoples’ physical and mental aspects are so interconnected. Here are some of the ways generalized anxiety disorder breaks down the body.

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling twitchy, shaky, or trembling
  • Tense muscles and muscle pain
  • Excess sweating
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea or diarrhea
  • Easily agitated 
  • Readily startled or nervous

How Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treated?

No one with GAD (or without it for that matter) can completely rid themselves of anxiety. Still, there are some steps you can take to manage it. Consistently keeping your stress at healthy levels can have physical and mental health benefits. It also will allow you to excel in your relationships and at school or work. What follows are a few of the more common ways to address generalized anxiety disorder.

Educate Yourself: The more you know about GAD, the easier it will be to find ways to deal with anxiety. You’ll have a better understanding of when your anxiety is spiking and will realize it isn’t something you just have to live with.

Keep a Journal: First, this can help because you get your worries and frustrations about your anxiety problems ‘off your chest.’ It also enables you to take an honest look at how to reduce anxiety in your life. Besides this, journaling allows you to keep track of how you’re feeling throughout your anxiety relief journey.

Avoid Unhealthy Coping Attempts: When you’re regularly anxious, it’s easy to numb the pain in some way. The most common attempts are through drugs and alcohol. But other pursuits such as irresponsible sexual activity or overeating are also common. Do your best to avoid short-term ‘coping attempts’ that will only lead to more anxiety later on. 

Seek Help Early: Figure out how to help anxiety now. The longer you wait, the worse GAD will likely become.

How to Stop Anxiety Caused by GAD: Counseling Can Also Help

Counseling for generalized anxiety disorder is a good idea since it adequately addresses unhelpful worry and intense anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is commonly used to help individuals learn how to manage stress better. Through CBT, you can explore cognitive distortions that worsen your anxiety. Then, you’ll be able to work with your therapist to overcome these distortions.

Has anxiety been a struggle for you lately? If so, the Relationship Center of Orange County can assist you. We can provide evidence-based solutions for coping with stress.

 We can also help to determine if you’re facing an anxiety disorder. Whether you need relationship counseling, individual therapy, or marriage counseling, we can offer support.

The OC Relationship Center provides anxiety counseling in Newport Beach, California, and anxiety counseling in Mission Viejo, California. We can also assist you through teletherapy if that would work better. Feel free to schedule an appointment with us.