Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength ― Corrie Ten Boom
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. For instance, feeling anxious in certain situations can help us avoid danger, triggering our ‘fight or flight’ response. It is how we’ve evolved to keep ourselves safe. Sometimes though, we can become overly worried about perceived threats – bad things that may or may not happen.
When your worries are persistent or out of proportion to the reality of the threat, and get in the way of you living your life, you may have an anxiety disorder. The condition of steady, pervasive anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Yet there are numerous anxiety-related disorders. One is panic disorder—severe episodes of anxiety that occur in response to specific triggers. Another is obsessive-compulsive disorder, marked by persistent intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors, such as hand-washing. Post-traumatic stress disorder may develop after exposure to a terrifying event in which severe physical harm occurred or was threatened.
Anxiety so frequently co-occurs with depression that the two are thought to be twin faces of one disorder. Like depression, anxiety strikes twice as many adult females as males.
While a number of different diagnoses constitute anxiety disorders, the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder will often include the following:
- Restlessness, and a feeling of being “on-edge”
- Uncontrollable feelings of worry
- Increased irritability
- Concentration difficulties
- Sleep difficulties, such as problems in falling or staying asleep
- Fatigue, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts
Causes of anxiety:
- Genetics – people who have family members with an anxiety disorder are more likely to have one themselves
- Stress at work, school and/or in a personal relationship such as marriage
- Stress from an emotional trauma such as the death of a loved one
- Stress from a serious medical illness
- Side effect of medication
- Use of an illicit drug, such as cocaine
A person must meet all criteria of an anxiety disorder to qualify for a diagnosis. A mental health professional can diagnose anxiety and identify the possible causes.
To receive a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a person must experience excessive worry and anxiety about several different events or activities on more days than not for at least six months; have difficulties controlling worry, and have at least three anxiety symptoms on more days than not in the last six months.
To identify the condition, a doctor will look for one of the following anxiety symptoms, restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping and difficulty concentrating.
A doctor must be able to note that symptoms are interfering with daily life, perhaps causing absence from work or school.