What is Anxiety?
Anxiety & GAD
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders spoken about in our everyday lives. It’s our body’s natural way of alerting us to threats, danger or stressful situations.
During stressful situations such as job interviews, financial concerns or even conflicts can trigger you to start feeling nervous, and quickly be overwhelmed with fear or panic. Anxiety tends to set on quickly and then we’re attacked with physical symptoms that may include rapid breathing, increased heart rate, sweating, or stomach pain.
There are levels to anxiety and someone’s experience with anxiety may drastically differ from your own. If you’re struggling with anxiety, it’s very important to seek help especially if it’s making your everyday life difficult. There are two versions of anxiety and people tend to get this confused. Since anxiety is our internal warning system, it will trigger during stressful situations which can even at times be beneficial to us. An example would be your boss giving you a short deadline on an important project. Knowing the workload is large and the time frame is short it makes you nervous and stressed out (anxiety kicking in) if you would be able to complete the project in time. This gets you to tackle the task and not procrastinate with the result of getting it done efficiently.
The second version of anxiety is called “Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” The difference between GAD and anxiety is that someone with GAD's internal warning system is on 24/7. Even if they’re not in a stressful situation, anxiety unexpectedly appears for no reason triggering symptoms such as overwhelming fear, rapid heart rate, racing thoughts, intrusive thoughts, and will be accompanied with physical symptoms. According to the DSM-5 some of the criteria to be diagnosed with GAD you must be experiencing this for at least six months and is clearly excessive and very challenging to control.
When seeking help, it’s very important to identify which version of anxiety you have. One question to help you narrow it down would be, “Is your anxiety set on from stressful situations or does your anxiety fire up for no possible reason?”
Some signs of anxiety will be listed below and it’s very important to become familiar with them to help yourself and to help others that might be suffering in silence.
Signs of both kinds anxiety
- Feeling Agitated
- Difficulty concentrating
- Panic Attacks
- Irrational Fears
- Avoiding Social Situations
Physical symptoms of both kinds of anxiety
- Weakness or Fatigue
- Trouble Falling or Staying Asleep
- Stomach pain, Nausea
- Muscle tension
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
Tips to Combat Anxiety (This is meant to reduce your anxiety and help alleviate some symptoms)
Being physically active: It has proven to help reduce risk of developing anxiety and help reduce stress.
Meditation: Taking some time out of the day to sit in stillness and slow down your mind.
Limiting Caffeine: You can be caffeine sensitive and not even know it. Too much of it can cause your heart to race and trigger anxiety symptoms.
Eating a healthy diet: What you consume is very important to your mental health. Eating unhealthy processed food can make you feel sluggish and sick. Try adding more vegetables, healthy meats, and fruits into your diet to help increase alertness and energy.
Practicing Yoga: It’s also a form of meditation and it teaches you to be present.
Keep in mind by doing just one-two of the tips will not cure your anxiety, but it will help alleviate some of the symptoms you’re currently having. It’s very important to seek help from a professional such as a therapist to see what necessary steps you need to take to combat your anxiety. After speaking to a therapist, they might even think it’s a good option for you to get on medication. There is nothing wrong with medication or going to a therapist. It's important to do whatever you need to improve your quality of life.
You’re not alone on this journey, there are roughly 40 million adults in the United States that suffer from anxiety. Be open about your anxiety and speak up to help make the change in the world that we need. The more we talk about it the more it becomes normalized which will lead to more people being willing to seek help. Educate others about anxiety and most importantly be there for someone that’s experiencing anxiety. Listen to their concerns and validate their feelings and help them get the help they need. Together we can end the stigma surrounding mental health!