What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder?
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), sometimes called generalised anxiety or just anxiety, is a leading mental illness. More than 15% of Australians experience generalised anxiety every year, and the results can be catastrophic. Anxiety not only interferes with your sense of well-being but can also make it difficult to work, sustain healthy relationships, sleep, eat and perform other daily tasks.
We all get anxious from time to time. Indeed, without anxiety, we wouldn’t be able to protect ourselves in dangerous situations. The adrenaline-induced fight-or-flight reaction is what enables you to run from a predator, take swift action to protect your family, and set goals designed to reduce health stress. In some people, though, this natural reaction escalates out of control. Generalised anxiety disorder causes you to experience chronic anxiety for no specific reason. Of course, life is full of anxiety, so it’s always easy to find something on which to blame your anxiety. When one source of anxiety – such as seeing the dentist, or awaiting results of a medical test – disappears, your brain moves on to finding another source. With generalised anxiety disorder, the anxiety never lifts.
What Are the Symptoms of Generalised Anxiety?
So how can you tell the difference between “normal” anxiety and an anxiety disorder? Symptoms of a normal anxiety disorder include:
- Feeling anxious for no reason, or experiencing intense anxiety in response to relatively minor stressors.
- Waking up anxious.
- Being unable to sleep because of anxiety.
- Nightmares and disturbing dreams.
- Experiencing physical nervousness, such as a pit in your stomach, sweating, or panic attacks.
- Difficulty functioning in frightening situations. You might, for example, be unable to carry on a conversation when you’re feeling anxious.
- Avoidance of sources of anxiety. Rather than trying to get over the anxiety, most people with anxiety disorders engage in perpetual avoidance.
What Causes Generalised Anxiety?
Like most mental health conditions, generalised anxiety disorder doesn’t have a single cause. Instead, the disorder is likely caused by a complex interaction between several different risk factors. Some people, though, will get anxiety despite having no risk factors; others fail to develop the condition even when they have every risk factor:
- An insecure environment; people living in abusive or dangerous situations may become chronically anxious.
- Genetic and biological factors.
- A family history of anxiety; when a parent or sibling repeatedly behaves anxiously, it’s easy to learn this behaviour such that it feels natural and normal.
- Experiencing a traumatic event, such as a rape or child abuse.
- An introverted personality.
- A history of other forms of mental illness.
How Can Help — Its Time To Overcome Generalised Anxiety
At The Three Seas, we know that the prospect of seeking counselling can be scary for those already struggling with anxiety. You may worry about whether what you say will be kept confidential, how effective therapy actually is, or how long therapy will take. We work with you to assuage these fears. Together we’ll develop a comprehensive treatment plan based on your values and needs.
You might not realise it yet, but you think a number of thoughts that make you feel more anxious. Likewise, your anxiety causes you to behave in ways that actually make your fear worse. For instance, you might anxiously delay asking your boss for time off, thereby eliminating your chance at a much-needed vacation. Three Seas works with you to determine how your thoughts affect your behaviour and how your behaviour affects your anxiety. Anxiety is not your fault, but you may be surprised to learn how quickly things can get better if you’re willing to make a few small changes.
The symptoms and commonly associated mental health issues of anxiety can be debilitating for the sufferer. The effects on the person caring for the sufferer can also be extreme and are often overlooked.