- GAD is a complex mental health problem that warrants proper diagnosis and treatment
Many people struggle with anxiety every day. Symptoms can include feelings of worry and uneasiness or even panic attacks, in addition to a wide range of physical symptoms and health problems. Anxiety can affect a person’s life in many different ways.
It’s important to note that not all anxiety is the same. Some people have anxiety only in stressful situations, while others have chronic anxiety disorders that affect their everyday lives. Living with chronic anxiety isn’t easy, especially when it affects your ability to relax and enjoy life. There is both medication and natural ways to treat anxiety, but you need to use them effectively.
One of the most common anxiety disorders is GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), which is very different from everyday anxiety you might feel before a big work meeting or a presentation at school. If you ever experience anxiety, here’s what you need to know about GAD vs. situational anxiety you might experience from time to time.
Anxiety vs. GAD… What’s the Difference?
Everyday anxiety is something almost everyone experiences from time to time. We all have stressors in our lives, and it’s perfectly reasonable to respond to those stressors with worry and anxiety. If you’re gearing up for an important interview, caring for a loved one who is ill, or buying a house, it’s common to experience anxiety until the situation is resolved.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), on the other hand, is a chronic condition marked by anxiety that lasts longer than six months and is not necessarily influenced by reality or stressful events. People with GAD may worry excessively and be preoccupied with all kinds of things, including money, relationships, work, and more. They often expect the worst and worry about “what-if” scenarios and vague threats.
Many people with GAD have trouble sleeping and develop anxiety-related health problems. GAD has an ongoing impact on everyday life and well-being, while everyday anxiety subsides when the legitimate “threat” has been resolved.
Kids and GAD
Even children can have chronic anxiety and anxiety disorders. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 7.1% of children ages 3 through 17 suffer from anxiety. For parents, seeing a child suffer from anxiety and other mental health disorders, like ADHD, can be devastating. Getting help from a mental health professional is key for understanding and coping with mental health disorders in children.
Crises like the COVID-19 pandemic can also make anxiety worse for children. Their routines are disrupted, their family may be struggling, and they are unable to see friends and loved ones. Children, like adults, respond to crises with anxiety, and it’s important to understand if your child is experiencing everyday anxiety or GAD.
Tips for Reducing Your Anxiety or Helping to Reduce Your Loved One’s Anxiety
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety of any kind, it’s important to develop some coping mechanisms. Everyone is different, so it’s important to find solutions that help you when you’re feeling anxious. Here are some tips and ideas for reducing anxiety:
- The goal is to manage anxiety, not eliminate it. Trying to “get rid” of anxiety by avoiding stressors isn’t a healthy approach. Managing the environment and understanding your anxiety triggers can help, but it’s important to realize that managing anxiety is an ongoing journey for people with GAD and other chronic anxiety disorders. If you can learn to function and practice self-care when you feel anxious, your anxiety will get better over time.
- Get moving. Physical activity is a great way to cope with anxiety in a healthy way. Exercise elevates your mood and can make you more focused. Add a walk or some yoga into your day for consistent mood management.
- Create a morning routine. Anxiety often strikes in the morning, setting the tone for the day. Create a new narrative by sticking to a positive morning routine that helps set you up for success. Great options include a healthy breakfast, a shower, journaling, exercise, and/or meditation.
- Take a moment for gratitude and meditation. Meditation is an amazing mental health tool that can help people with anxiety focus on the moment and on their breathing. It’s a great way to interrupt harmful thoughts and feel more grounded. Other great activities include daily planning, gratitude practices, journaling, or “fact-checking” fears.
Take Anxiety Seriously
Anxiety is a common problem, but that doesn’t make it any less serious or disruptive. People with GAD may develop physical health problems, have panic attacks, or find that they’re unable to relax and even sleep. If you think you or a loved one might have GAD, seeking help from a mental health professional as soon as possible will help you take steps toward a happier, healthier future.