Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD is the term used by medical professionals to describe people who are suffering from a heightened or exaggerated fear of many things which might well seem irrational to people who are not themselves over-anxious. Somebody suffering from GAD will worry about their job, their kids not getting the best marks in the class, health, money, taxes, what the neighbors think, in fact pretty well everything.
What is Anxiety?
When there is a possibility of danger or attack, our bodies naturally react by producing more adrenalin and making our heart pound faster which produces higher blood pressure so our muscles are primed, ready to make a run for it or to fight the attacker (this is often called Fight-or-Flight). This whole experience is not particularly pleasant but in a dangerous situation it is, at least, very valuable. However sometimes our body’s reactions become hypersensitive whereby relatively small stresses in our lives causes uncomfortable feelings such as impending doom, rapid heartbeat/ palpitations, visible shaking, excessive sweating, nausea, gastro-intestinal problems such as diarrhea or stomach cramps, chest pains, feeling light-headed, sleep problems, etc. This type of condition is generally described as anxiety.
Anxiety attacks can affect adults or children and may be partially hereditary or family enhanced and can be caused by life’s stresses such as holding down (or losing) a job, relationship problems, difficult children, health problems, accidents, shortage of money or debt, housing problems, deaths of loved ones, to name just a few. Also somebody who has experienced an attack on themselves or been witness to an attack or traumatic event, may well suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) whereby they are very much on edge that they might be attacked again and constantly live with horrific nightmares most nights. These unfortunate people become very anxious and upset and find it hard to socialize very much.
What can be done about anxiety?
Sufferers of PTSD tend to use avoidance of anything that might trigger an anxiety attack and thus their anxiety can take over their lives, sometimes causing them to become agoraphobic and thus affecting their work, social life and family life. Avoidance is not really the answer as all it achieves is to lock you into an ever decreasing World, leaving you even more stressed and anxious. It is advisable to seek expert counseling in this field if possible.
Useful ideas for reducing anxiety are often based on things that cause the body to relax, such as herbal baths, herbal teas, exercise, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, listening to soothing music, going for long walks, etc. There are anti-anxiety pills available on prescription but often these have unpleasant or long-lasting side effects and they don’t tackle the underlying problem of what is causing the anxiety.
Try to avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, excess alcohol or caffeine consumption, etc, as these are only a temporary solution which will cause more problems later.
It is advisable to talk to your family Doctor who can then refer you to a trauma specialist / counselor if applicable, or else discuss the options with you. For PTSD there is also independent counseling although you may have to go privately.