Everything You Need To Know About Anxiety In 2022 (Part 1)
In life, there are events for which it is not always possible to anticipate or control and for which it is legitimate to be more anxious, more stressed than usual: loss of a job, health problems, financial difficulties… However, it also happens that some people feel this anxiety without any particular reason, on a daily basis and in all areas of life. This is called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
1. What is generalized anxiety disorder?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is an illness that affects approximately 3.1% or 6.8 million people between the ages of 18 and 65 in the United States. It is characterized by permanent anxiety (chronic anxiety), to which other non-specific symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are added, such as muscle and joint pain, sleep disorders, headaches, etc.
Generalized anxiety disorder is defined as “excessive nervousness and worry about many activities or events. Affected individuals are anxious more days than they are not for 6 months or more”, according to the MSD (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
Not always easy to diagnose, chronic anxiety is sometimes confused with illnesses with similar symptoms and constitutes a real handicap in daily life for sufferers. Indeed, in addition to causing physical pain to the person, generalized anxiety disorder affects his or her cognitive abilities with memory lapses and concentration problems that appear little by little.
2. What are the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder?
People with GAD tend to think that their GAD symptoms are part of their personality and that their excessive anxiety is in their nature. However, chronic anxiety develops gradually and slowly, so some people have been suffering from it unknowingly for many years. The person suffering from chronic anxiety generally experiences the following symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder
- Restlessness and a feeling of being overexcited or on edge
- Fatigue: that is, a tendency to get tired quickly
- Difficulty concentrating or memory lapses
- An irritability
- Muscular tension: neck pain, back tension, headaches…
- Sleep disorders: difficulty falling asleep, regular awakenings during the night, not very restful sleep…
- A permanent worry, which does not find reasons to justify it
- Excessive worry, focused on several areas at the same time: health, work, social relationships, finances and family.
- Difficulty in managing emotions
- A tendency to fear the worst in all situations without being able to find reassurance
- An anxiety disorder symptom usually appears gradually in the lives of those affected, which delays the diagnosis of GAD.
Thus, for your anxiety to be considered generalized, it must meet 3 criteria:
- It must be anxiety that has lasted for more than 6 months.
- It must lead to an inability to control yourself: you know that your anxiety is unfounded, but it is stronger than you; you can’t control yourself.
- It handicaps you in your daily life physically and psychologically.
3. Strong and paralyzing emotions
The first sign of generalized anxiety is the intensity of emotions and the feeling of being paralyzed by them. Indeed, you regularly feel intense fear about everyday situations that do not require so much anxiety. If anxiety is a normal reaction to the hazards of life, anxiety can, however, become pathological when it is excessive. It is important to know that anxiety disorders, like phobias, result from an overestimation of danger in a particular context.
For example, a person may be scared to death of spiders and come face to face with them or feel an intense fear of flying. The over-interpretation of danger is due to your heightened emotions paralyzing you when confronted with the situation. These strong and paralyzing emotions build up in your brain as false beliefs take hold of you. To remedy this, it is interesting to transform these false beliefs into positive ones.
Sometimes you may feel fear for events that have not yet happened, in anticipation, or for events that will never happen. In this case, it is also your false beliefs that lead you to a state of paralysis. You imagine in your head a kind of catastrophic scenario which creates confusion in your brain, unable to differentiate reality from imagination. Your emotions take over, and you can no longer control them.
The intensity of this feeling can vary from person to person, but it can be so powerful and overwhelming that it can cause panic attacks. A panic attack is the sudden onset of intense fear, anxiety or apprehension. The person experiencing the panic attack has the feeling of an impending disaster. In this case, fear takes precedence over reality. For example, it is not uncommon for people to suffer a panic attack before an exam, a job interview or a sports competition.
The stakes put the person under pressure, and his or her emotions take on such a magnitude that he or she is no longer able to control them to put the situation into perspective. If an anxiety attack overwhelms you, breath in and out calmly to evacuate your stress and slow down your heart rate. This way, you will be able to control your emotional excess and excessive stress to calm your crisis.
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