People who find themselves anxious on a daily basis may be dealing with a condition called Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It’s characterised by the sufferer being unable to control feelings of doom and anxiety for a prolonged period of time.
They may fixate on their problems and not be able to stop their symptoms of anxiety, even if there is nothing noticeably ‘wrong’. If you suffer from GAD you know how difficult it is to control the anxiety that can end up dictating your life.
To an extent, being anxious is a normal part of life. For example, if you have a job interview tomorrow then a bit of anxiety is to be expected. But if you find yourself constantly anxious in an uncontrollable way then you could suffer from GAD. A formal diagnosis involves experiencing three or more of these symptoms for at least six months:
Experiencing at least three of these for months on end is what differentiates GAD from anxiety that is linked with a specific event, such as a job interview or family illness.
Around 3% of the population suffers from GAD, and this is likely to be higher since the pandemic. It effects women more often than men and symptoms can start at any age. However, it’s more usual to develop them from teenagerhood up to middle age.
There is no known cause of GAD, but plenty of evidence to suggest that various factors contribute to its likelihood. These include biological factors, family background, trauma in childhood and general life experiences, such as bereavement or divorce.
Anxiety is thought to be largely linked with the inability to control life situations. This leads to overplanning and an obsession with detail that can inhibit quality of life. It can, of course, also cause physical illness, such as nausea and headaches to IBS and muscle aches.
With the right treatment plan, it’s absolutely possible to live a full life with GAD. However, this means taking proactive steps to alleviate symptoms, which can be difficult for sufferers to even contemplate. Starting small and building up to a treatment plan is our advice. This can include therapy, medication, supplements, a good diet and regular exercise, for example.
Dealing with severe GAD can heavily impact people’s lives. It’s not unusual for people with GAD to avoid situations that trigger their symptoms, including socialising, job opportunities and travel. At its worst, GAD can make it feel impossible to get even the basics done on a daily basis.
Our advice would always be to head to the doctor as your first port of call. Medication can help with GAD and is usually prescribed along with some form of therapy. The right therapy tends to vary from person to person, but there are various forms of therapy that are thought to help, including but not limited to the following:
Whichever form of therapy you choose, it should help you form a new relationship with your anxiety and its symptoms. This starts with understanding why it’s happening, why it feels this way and how to work through its symptoms. The main aim of therapy is to banish the fear that comes along with the anxiety.
CBT in particular has been scientifically shown to be useful for many people dealing with severe anxiety and GAD. It targets your thought patterns, physical symptoms and your behaviours and provides a framework of practical ways to work through it. Combining therapy with other self-help forms of treatment can go a long way to helping you deal with GAD. Try the following tips until you come up with a plan that works for you.
Eating well is really important when it comes to alleviating the symptoms of anxiety. Too much caffeine, alcohol or sugar can make your symptoms worse, while getting enough nutrients, vitamins and minerals can help to balance you out.
High quality supplements formulated for specific issues can help greatly, and they are easily accessible. For example, for women dealing with anxiety, something like
Kurapeak can help. Not only is it developed to combat anxiety but also helps with low energy levels too.
Whether you learn yoga or how to meditate, go on a walk or read a book, it’s about finding a relaxation technique that works for you. This can help you to take a break from the pressure of anxiety and clear your mind.
When you’re anxious a lot you need more sleep. Try limiting screen time before bedtime and ensure your bedroom is cool and dark. Practice breathing exercises or meditating when trying to fall asleep and you should find you’re able to rest for longer.
Ideally, try to do at least half an hour of exercise every day. Anything from speed walking to running, lifting or cycling counts.
To slow your heart rate and ward off a panic attack you can try counting techniques. Match your breathing with a slow count to 10 and back down again. Repeat for as many times as you need until you feel calmer.
If you don’t exercise every day or find yoga boring, that’s totally fine. Don’t strive for perfection in your quest to reduce your anxiety. This will only cause it to get worse. Use a combination of these tips and find your own treatment plan. You may be surprised how much control you do have over your GAD symptoms after all.