Generalized Anxiety Disorers
Generalized Anxiety Disorders
Generalized anxiety disorders can cause frequent high levels of worry. Everybody feels some anxiety in life but living with this disorder feels overwhelming and unavoidable. If you’re wondering whether your thoughts are crossing the line between typical worry and anxiety disorders, reach out today.
One of the most known symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder is anxiety attacks. An anxiety attack will most likely be triggered, has physiological repercussions, and can happen at any time.1 Knowing the symptoms of anxiety attacks and being able to recognize the beginning stages can help prevent anxiety attacks. However, not all will be preventable or stoppable.
Anxiety attacks can be different for all individuals. If you have a loved one who experiences anxiety attacks, ask if there are any symptoms they want you to watch for which may signal an oncoming attack. Anxiety attacks can build over time or be much quicker at their onset.
Just as with all medical disorders, each individual will have a different story and it’s extremely important to keep their unique situation in mind. Anxiety attacks can take a variety of forms and all should be regarded with compassion and understanding.
Tests for Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety tests were designed to gain an idea of the level of anxiety an individual is experiencing. They’re an important tool which are relied upon to gain patient information for an accurate diagnosis. Often it can be hard for individuals to describe their anxiety in terms of degree, as nobody can experience another person’s anxiety and therefore don’t have anything to measure against. Using an anxiety test helps doctors gain an accurate image of the anxiety their patient is experiencing.
Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)
The Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) is a tool many doctors use.2 The individual ranks a variety of their symptoms on a scale of 0-3, with a higher number representing a higher severity. A lot of the symptoms listed on the BAI represent mental awareness but also deal with physical aspects as well. Through this test, a final number is totaled to give the doctor an accurate view of the individual’s anxiety. The Beck Anxiety Inventory is a brilliant way for individuals to gain quantitative knowledge about their anxiety disorder.
Anxiety Risk Factors
Anybody can develop anxiety. Anxiety disorders do not discriminate, though certain factors can increase risk. Risk factors can be both heritable and contextual, depending on many different things.3
When Anxiety Began
Some may be able to trace their anxiety disorder back to a specific starting place or moment, while others will experience symptoms their entire life. If you were extremely shy or subdued during childhood, you may be at a higher risk of developing a generalized anxiety disorder, as well as if you’ve experienced trauma. A family history of mental illness can also be a signal for an anxiety disorder, so knowing your family’s health history will be important when attending appointments.
Physiological Risk Factors
Some of the biggest risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder are physiological. While anxiety involves the mental state, physical things can have an impact. The thyroid, which controls many important bodily processes, can contribute to an anxiety disorder if it’s not functioning at the proper level.
Medication can also greatly affect your mental state and may be increasing your anxiety. If you’re experiencing anxiety make sure that you’re working with a mental health professional to examine all the options.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Symptoms of anxiety vary and depend on the individual. If you’re supporting someone with anxiety or have recently been diagnosed with the disorder, comparison to others will most likely not be helpful. While symptom guides can provide education, they shouldn’t be something to measure personal worth against.
Symptoms can include extreme nervousness, increased heart rate, insomnia, digestive issues, and struggling to focus, as well as other physiological and mental signs.4 Taking the time to listen to symptoms and validate personal experience is important. If you think you may have an anxiety disorder or someone close to you has reached out and asked for help, know that there are options available. Mental health professionals are available to guide you through diagnostic and support services.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are different types of anxiety, each of which is valid and deserving of compassion.
Social Anxiety Disorders
Social anxiety disorder “is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others.”5 While feelings from the disorder can be triggered in social situations, it also can be felt when alone. Understanding that anxiety can occur at any time is important in supporting people with an anxiety disorder. Those with a social anxiety disorder may have preferred to be secluded in childhood and may have a family history of the disorder.
High Functioning Anxiety
High functioning anxiety is not a verifiable medical diagnosis but is used to describe “people who live with anxiety but identify as functioning reasonably well in different aspects of their life.”6 Those with high functioning anxiety can use it as a tool to make positive steps outside of their comfort zone. While some may be able to use high functioning anxiety to their advantage, it is still a mental health factor.
Addiction and Anxiety Disorders
Coping mechanisms can be realized or occur in the subconscious. Coping can be done in healthy or unhealthy ways and is what most people turn to in times of stress. Because most individuals with anxiety have high-stress levels, coping mechanisms can be relied on even more heavily. There are natural remedies for anxiety, which are healthy if used appropriately. Some, however, turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs and alcohol.
Dual Diagnosis: Substance Use Disorder and Anxiety
Not every individual diagnosed with anxiety will turn to substances and develop an addiction. However, statistics show that it is twice more likely for an individual with anxiety to turn to substance abuse than an individual without anxiety.6 Those who have been diagnosed with anxiety after a substance use disorder know that the process can go both ways. Substance abuse can contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder, as the need for substances can create stress.
Drugs and anxiety often go hand in hand. This is not because of the nature of anxiety itself, but because of the way that some individuals attempt to self-medicate. When drugs are turned to as a solution, the brain is being asked to process even more stimuli. Anxiety can be caused when an abnormality occurs in brain chemistry, which can also be related to substance use disorders.6 Addictive drugs hurt individuals, whether it be in the short or long term. Asking the body to process drugs puts added stress on the brain, which can increase anxiety.
Treating Anxiety Disorders
Whether you’d prefer natural remedies for anxiety or anxiety medication, there are many different options available.
Anxiety medication is a reliable mechanism that can be used to decrease anxiety symptoms. Many benefits come from pairing anxiety medication with therapy so that all aspects of the person are being taken care of. Finding the unique type of anxiety management is extremely important.
CBD for Anxiety
CBD for anxiety is currently a popular option. When taken for medical purposes, CBD is safe and a more natural treatment than some anxiety medications. CBD for anxiety can decrease symptoms and help with coping. If it has an extremely low to no amount of THC, the individual will not feel “high.” CBD for anxiety is in no way intended to be used for fun or in social settings; it is a medical treatment and should be regarded in the same way that other medications are. Just like all medications, it should be used properly and appropriately.
CBD for anxiety is best when done under the direction of a doctor or individual with the training to provide detailed, safe directions. If you’re considering this option, reach out to a healthcare provider who can answer your questions and guide you in the right direction.
Anxiety medications range and should be prescribed by a professional with a clear understanding of their patient’s specific situation. Anxiety medications should be taken precisely and seriously. Medications such as Gabapentin will have very specific doses and should only be taken in accordance with what your doctor has prescribed. Many anxiety medications work directly through the brain, guiding it to make certain chemicals or regulate it differently.8 The neuroscience behind these medications is extremely complex.
Gabapentin is a fairly new drug that is being used to treat anxiety. It was not initially created for anxiety patients and was originally made to combat epilepsy.
Many natural remedies for anxiety work to reduce stress and combat worry. Exercising is an excellent way to redirect focus and use energy.
At your next doctor’s appointment, ask what changes you can make to your diet to decrease possible anxiety. Certain foods have been found to increase anxiety, so be conscious about what’s on your plate.
Practices such as yoga or meditation may seem unnecessary to some but have health benefits. Hobbies that decrease stress can lower anxiety.
Live Beyond Anxiety: Recovery is Possible
If you’ve been living with anxiety, it is completely possible to live a happy, fulfilling life after being diagnosed. An anxiety diagnosis can seem overwhelming at first, so examining different options is an excellent way to start. Researching is one of the best ways to understand what exactly generalized anxiety disorder is, what that diagnosis means, and how it could be impacting you.