Many people experience anxiety but can go years without knowing they have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If undiagnosed and untreated, anxiety can cause severe problems and make you feel like you are going crazy. Speaking with a medical professional about feelings and symptoms is crucial for a proper diagnosis. Upon diagnosis, people can seek professional mental health treatment and start managing anxiety with healthy coping skills.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions experienced among people today. It is also common for individuals to experience anxiety as a co-occurring disorder when dealing with a substance use disorder (SUD). People often turn to substance use to cope with their anxiety, and without proper treatment, this can lead to dependency and a number of other problems. Prevent going down the road of dependency by seeking treatment and learning how you can start managing your anxiety today.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety looks different for everyone. For the most part, we all experience anxiety in many different ways throughout our day-to-day lives. This is typically present when worrying about health, finances, relationships, and family issues.
Anxiety is more intense than day-to-day worries. It can be described as “a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness.” Individuals sometimes sweat, feel restless, and experience an increased heart rate. These are common signs of stress, but anxiety takes things to a different level.
With anxiety, fears become uncontrollable. It progressively worsens over time and sometimes requires behavioral therapies and medications. A critical indicator of an anxiety disorder is when symptoms intensify and interfere with your ability to function day-to-day. That includes the inability to fulfill professional and personal responsibilities.
Before we dive into GAD and how you can start managing anxiety, let’s think about what causes it.
What Causes Anxiety?
Unfortunately, there is no one cause of anxiety. Research indicates that several factors lead to its development. That includes genetics, brain chemistry, environmental factors, and trauma. Trauma, in particular, can increase anxiety symptoms, and until a person learns to cope with it, the body’s natural response kicks into overdrive, making it difficult to function.
As mentioned, people with SUD are at an increased risk of experiencing co-occurring disorders. Anxiety is one of many disorders a person may experience. While people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of managing anxiety symptoms, it can be counterproductive as substance use can worsen these symptoms.
GAD and Other Potential Types of Anxiety
One of the most common types of anxiety disorder is GAD. GAD is characterized by persistent anxiety about daily situations that may cause you to feel on edge. Some GAD symptoms include:
- Frequent worry for at least six months
- Trouble concentrating
- Fatigue and restlessness
- Moods swings and irritability
- Difficult falling or staying asleep
If you recognize any of these symptoms, you may have GAD. Waiting to seek treatment only increases the chances that your symptoms can intensify and worsen. It is also possible for people to experience more than one anxiety disorder at a time. Other types of anxiety disorders include:
- Panic disorder, or when a person experiences short periods of intense anxiety.
- Phobia disorders cause irrational fear about something specific, including animal phobias, natural environment phobias, blood or injection phobias, situational phobias, and more.
- Social anxiety disorders have become immensely common, especially among youth today. It is characterized by anxiety over social situations and interactions.
Regardless of the type of anxiety disorder you have, treatment is possible. Therapy looks different for everyone, but seeking professional mental health services is vital to learning how to manage your GAD.
How You Can Start Managing Anxiety With Professional Treatment
There are many options available to you when seeking treatment for GAD. Some of those treatment options include:
- Psychotherapy. Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy helps with anxiety by working with a therapist to reduce symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most commonly implemented modalities. It focuses on teaching you to identify negative thoughts and behaviors and changing them to reduce anxiety symptoms.
- Medications can also help you with managing your anxiety. Of course, there are risks and potential side effects associated with using medications, whether it’s an antidepressant or anti-anxiety prescription. Additionally, there may be an increased risk if you also have SUD. Discuss any concerns with your doctor, and consider seeking professional medication-assisted treatment (MAT) if trying to manage anxiety and SUD simultaneously.
Additional Tips for Managing Anxiety Long-Term
There are more ways you can start managing anxiety long-term in addition to psychotherapy and medication. You can experiment with:
- Meditation and mindfulness-based practices
- Take daily walks, exercise, or try yoga
- Identify and learn to manage your triggers
- Keep a journal to track progress, setbacks, and thought patterns
- Take care of your body by eating healthy and getting enough quality sleep
- Consider finding a local support group
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings
- Consider another alternative, holistic, and homeopathic practices
The longer you wait to seek professional mental health services for your GAD, the longer your road to recovery may be. Reach out to Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention to learn more about managing your anxiety today.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions experienced by millions of Americans nowadays. It is also possible for someone to experience more than one anxiety disorder at a time. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) creates constant and sometimes unrealistic fear and worry about everyday things. Symptoms can become so severe that they impair your ability to function day-to-day, impacting your professional responsibilities, personal relationship, and familial obligations. Thankfully, treatment is possible. However, the longer you wait to seek treatment, the longer your road to recovery may be. To learn more about GAD, managing anxiety, and our professional mental health services, call Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention at (866) 986-1481 today.