Understanding the Mind: Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Mental health is often a topic of public discourse, but do we really know what we are talking about? Within this series (“Understanding the Mind”), I aim to provide readers with an insight about what mental illness is. To find out more and for an introduction about what this series aims to do, read this post. To read all the posts in this series, click here.

What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions in which a person is often worried or anxious about a vast array of things and finds it difficult to control. Often, this anxiety is tied in with persistent stress. They can cause both psychological and physical symptoms, including; sleeping difficulties (eg: insomnia), feeling tired, being unable to concentrate, being irritable or quick to get angrey, feeling out of control of your actions or detached from your surroundings. Physical symptoms are caused by the release of the hormone adrenaline and may include:

  • stomach cramps
  • dry mouth
  • rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • dizziness
  • diarrhoea
  • picking at skin or nails/pulling of hair
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling of a lumb in your throat
  • trembling or shaking
  • needing to urinate more often than usual
  • nausea or sickness
  • headaches
  • hot or cold sweats
  • muscle tension

Statistics:

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults in the US age 18 and older (18% of the US population).
  • Just one third of those who have anxiety disorders receive treatment,
  • Women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder.

There are many different forms of anxiety, including OCD, trichotillomania (hair pulling) and agoraphobia, among many. Today, I want to focus on Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) makes a person feel constantly worried and this can seem out of their control, often feeling as if there is no reason for their worry. The said person may feel on edge and overly alert to their surroundings the majority of the time.

Suffering with GAD can affect your daily life. You might find that it affects your ability to work or travel to places, even leave the house. You might also have trouble sleeping or concentrating and get tired easily, causing all types of obvious problems. Physical symptoms might also appear, restricting you from achieving your potential on a day to day basis.

Often, those who suffer with GAD also have other conditions such as other anxiety disorders or depression. It is difficult to diagnose because it doesn’t have any more noticeable symptoms of other anxiety disorders and your doctor is likely to say you have GAD if you feel anxious most days for over a time period of six months.

Causes might include family conflict, relationships, work/school, financial tension, overall health, chemical imbalances in the brain, personality, heredity or stressful life events. There are many treatments available, such as: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, exercise, following a health diet, reducing caffeine, avoiding the use of street drugs, joining a support group, medications, and getting enough sleep.

If you or someone you know may suffer from an anxiety disorder, contacting your physician would be highly beneficial to recovery.

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9 Comments

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  1. this post is so helpful to everyone who doesn’t understand, a lot of the time people don’t take anxiety disorders seriously or it takes a lot of explaining to truly allow someone to understand that it is a growing problem and this gives the basic briefing of anxiety and suffering with it myself, it’s great that people are blogging/vlogging about this on the internet so more people can understand it a bit more.

    • I completely agree. A lot of the time the public get the wrong idea about mental illness and there a lot of misconceptions concerning it. I think it’s important to write a brief overview of the most common disorders ect that people suffer with, if only to allow people to make more accurate judgements in everyday life. Ignorance might be bliss but it can cause a lot of upset, too.

      I’m really glad you liked the post. Consider sharing it, if you haven’t already?

      • yes i think it’s very important, especially as the most common mental illnesses are actually the ones which get dismissed usually, which is quite sad but i suppose thats the way it goes! i absolutely love all your posts btw !

        • Yes, agreed. What is even more disturbing is that mental illnesses are often used as adjectives: “It’s so depressing”; “You’re so OCD”; “Why do you have to be so bipolar?”

          Thank you! And thank you so much for reblogging. I love your posts too; some really had me thinking. Your support is appreciated. Did you see my introduction to this series, by any chance? I linked at the top of this post.

          • yes! that is one of my pet hates, although most people mean it in a harmless way it is still irritating, it’s also extremely sad that people are dismissing mental illness as a serious thing because they think it’s quirky or adds something different to your personality. a main reason why i think a lot of people deny anxiety disorders as something to be taken seriously because so many people ‘claim’ to have one, which again is extremely sad.
            no problem! oh i’m so glad i never expected anyone to even read them. I am just about to read them, haven’t been online in a while so i’m a bit behind!

          • I feel as if people only claim they have one because they aren’t quite sure what they are. Then again, the ignorant cannot be pitied if it is our fault they are ignorant.

            No problem! Take your time. I appreciate the support. And really? I think you’re blog is wonderful. You have a lovely writing tone.

          • Yes that’s so true, which is why this blog and others are so important!! Love love love the way you’ve made this a series such a brilliant idea. Oh thank you so so much that means so much! That’s such a confidence boost thank you so much!

          • Awh thank you!

            Ahaa you’re most welcome. Keep up the great work, you’re a lot better than I am now, never mind when I started blogging (almost three years ago, now).

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