We all get anxious sometimes but with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, this is a constant companion, often for no obvious reason. It can make it really hard just to get through the day.
This article will look at some of the reasons why Generalised Anxiety Disorder occurs, how you can tell if you have it, and how to manage it.
Why Generalised Anxiety Disorder happens
With Generalised Anxiety Disorder, the causes are quite complicated. There can be genetic, behavioural and developmental factors involved according to Psychology Today.
The current thinking is focused on the amygdala, the part of the brain that is linked to sensory signals. This is also where ‘threats’ are identified that then trigger anxiety symptoms.
A family history of Generalised Anxiety Disorder can potentially make you more likely to be affected too
A shy and/or negative temperament can make you more prone to the negative thought patterns that go hand in hand with Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Having experienced a negative event either recently or in the past, including chronic health problems
Here are some signs you could be experiencing Generalised Anxiety Disorder:
Psychology Today states that Generalised Anxiety Disorder “is characterized by six months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience”.
So if you’ve been feeling overly worried for a while and have a lot of the symptoms, there’s a good chance that Generalised Anxiety Disorder is the culprit.
How to manage Generalised Anxiety Disorder
With Generalised Anxiety Disorder, it’s easy to feel that you’re not in control but there is actually quite a lot you can do to overcome the condition.
Some self help measures you can try include:
Exercise. Regular physical activity can help to relieve stress and also encourages your brain to produce more serotonin. Aerobic exercise such as swimming, cycling, jogging and aerobics can be really good for this. The NHS recommends doing at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise that makes you a little bit breathless as a way of managing Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
Learning to relax. Being able to switch off is key for managing Generalised Anxiety Disorder, not least because most people who have the condition find it very difficult or even impossible to relax. Deep breathing and relaxation exercises can help with this and you may find yoga, meditation and mindfulness helpful for helping you to switch off too.
Cutting back on caffeine. Drinking too much caffeine can increase your sense of anxiety so it’s best not to go too heavy with this when you’re already feeling on edge most or all of the time. This includes fizzy drinks and energy drinks, as well as the obvious tea and coffee.
Cutting back on drinking. If you already have chronic anxiety, alcohol can make it worse.
Psychotherapy. Talking therapies can help you to work through your anxiety and give you some tools to manage it going forward. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) focuses on changing your thinking patterns and encouraging you to react in a different way to anxiety triggers.
Medications. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants can be used alongside psychotherapy and are usually a short term treatment option. Psychological treatment is likely to be offered first as it’s been shown to have longer lasting effects for managing anxiety compared to medications alone.
Hypnotherapy. If CBT doesn’t help, hypnotherapy is another option for changing your thought processes. It allows access to your subconscious mind, which can change how you think from within. For anxiety, this can help you to cope a lot better with triggers and also help you to relax more.
I would love to know in the comments what you do to manage Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and if it helps.