What Even Is This Thing Called Anxiety?!

It's likely you already have a pretty good idea of what it means to feel anxiety. Heck, you could probably write a similar post and cover most everything about it. I wanted to take a moment and briefly describe how anxiety could look if it reaches the clinical level. In follow-up posts, I will explore the myriad of ways to lessen its influence on your life (*see my "Stress Reduction Series" for more).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, also known as GAD, is a very common and widespread type of anxiety. Typically, General Anxiety sufferers have persistent, unspecified worry about everyday things. The person with General Anxiety expects the worst to happen, believes their views to be true and then act upon their beliefs, by avoiding whatever triggers the anxiety. Chronic worry affects every aspect of life (from sleep, nutrition, purpose, community, relationships, etc…).

A GAD condition is a learned behavior, we are not born with it. When we have anxious thoughts, they trigger feelings of anxiety/discomfort which we then act upon to avoid feeling anxious; thereby creating a vicious cycle that goes around and around until it is interrupted.

The behavior we use to ease the anxiety (double-checking, not going out, not asking a question, etc.) in the short term helps our anxiety, but in the long term keeps us stuck in severe anxiety.

General Anxiety Disorder typically leaves sufferers awake at night and unable to handle small things in life that once seemed normal. This is down to an increasingly negative level of appraisal of what’s going on. This can be returned to normal again. An important step going forward is learning how to recognize the behaviors that keep the cycle in motion. This can be a very challenging task. When the anxiety reaches a clinical level, it will likely take a professional to help you through.

GAD is also common among people with panic disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders. It naturally halts our resources and leaves us exhausted, and one of the most frustrating aspects is that it can cause depression when we are hurting with it over a long period of time.

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