Anxiety Can Take Over Your Life
It is useful to understand the difference between
anxiety and fear–not so easy since they both feel exactly
the same. Anxiety is what you feel when you’re worried that
the bogeyman might jump out of the bushes and grab you. Fear
is what you feel when he actually does.
Fear is a life-preserving emotion that makes you ready
for fight or flight. Anxiety is a life-destroying emotion
that can cripple your initiative, prevent rejuvenating rest
and worry you to death.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is not the same as Panic
Disorder in which the feeling of fear becomes briefly intense
and then subsides. Nor is it the same as a phobia in which
the focus of anxiety is a specific thing or situation.
Nor, again, is it the same as Adjustment Disorder with
Anxiety which results from an identifiable stressor event and
begins to resolve itself once the stressor is removed.
Some people tend to worry more than others. This is not
necessarily a disorder if it doesn’t disrupt your life too
much. Generalized Anxiety Disorder definitely disrupts your
life and probably those of the people around you.
If your excessive worrying is accompanied by other
symptoms such as irritability, muscle tension, sleep
disturbance, fatigue, poor concentration or restlessness you
could have GAD. If you have felt these or similar symptoms
for six months or more, much or all of the time, not just
during panic attacks and not in response to a real and
frightening situation then you, by definition, have GAD.
Living in a state of hypervigilance is unnerving to say
the least. In short order you become depleted, even
exhausted. Your body gets worn out and your immune system is
weakened. Inner peace is nonexistent. You need help!
Now for the good news. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is
very treatable. Some combination of psychotherapy, stress
management techniques and medication will most likely help
you to calm down and get your life under control again.
Your family physician can help you decide whether you
ought to seek the help of a mental health specialist.