People experience anxiety sometimes that is considered normal. But when it is accompanied by excessive thoughts of worry throughout the day for no reason or when such feelings affect daily activities, it may be what is called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  People may have problems remaining calm, sleeping at night, and maintaining energy during the day.

Generalized Anxiety Defined


Chronic worrying, tension, and nervousness sum up what people experience with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  It is not to be confused with a phobia or being fixed on something with fear. The disorder is like a constant feeling of dreading something or the weight of uneasiness. It can last longer than a panic attack and affect other areas of your life. People with GAD worry about things like other people do, but their level of worry is excessive and much higher than most.

A person with the disorder can make a phone call to a friend but experiences anxiety thinking something is wrong with their friendship if the call isn’t returned immediately. Light conversation among coworkers about the economy leads one to think they will lose their job quickly.  The idea of thinking about the day ahead is overwhelming and leads to anxiety. Tension and worry get fabricated as it accompanies most daily activities even though nothing provoked or brought on these feelings.

If you recognize intense feelings in a situation more than what is necessary, unable to stop anxious thinking or feel worries provide a form of protection, it could be the result of anxiety.

More than Normal Worrying

Fear and doubt are common feelings people experience in life. Feeling anxious about something such as surgery, an exam, or unexpected bills is normal, but there is a difference when considering elements of anxiety. When feelings become persistent, excessive or disruptive, they are not considered normal.

People can have worries and still be able to conduct daily activities. When worries become disruptive, they affect your ability to get things done including your social life.  Normal worries can be controlled, but with anxiety they are uncontrollable.  Worries can cause distress that is manageable, but worries with anxiety can make things more stressful and displeasing.  Normal worrying is accompanied by realistic expectations, but worrying with anxiety, you expect a bad outcome. Normal worrying is short term, but worries with anxiety can be daily or last for months.

Signs and Symptoms


Anxiety can be experienced through behavioral, emotional and physical symptoms.  It is important to have a basic understanding of anxiety disorders and their symptoms. During stressful situations, they can become worse. Learning how to calm an anxious mind is part of the treatment process, but it helps to understand associated symptoms to look out for that may be a red flag, meaning it is time to seek help. Here is a checklist of physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms to know.

Signs of Anxious Feelings (Physical Symptoms)

  • Heart races
  • Palms are sweaty
  • Dizziness
  • Tension in muscles and body aches
  • Stomach butterflies (diarrhea or nausea)
  • Shaky nerves, jumpiness or restlessness

Signs of Anxious Thinking (Emotional Symptoms)

  • Predict future outcomes will be grim.
  • Thinking you can’t manage or deal with situations.
  • Constant worries of pleasing others.
  • Thoughts of perfection or things have to be perfect.
  • Excessive thoughts of lacking control.

Signs of Anxious Behavior (Behavioral Symptoms)

  • Skipping or avoiding social outings.
  • Back out of situations when feeling overwhelmed.
  • Inability to focus or concentrate.
  • Difficulty being calm, relaxed or being alone.

Caution: Symptoms related to anxiety may be the result of an underlying medical issue. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, consult with your doctor.

Tips on Dealing with Anxiety


Some adults dealing with anxiety may have experienced it during childhood.  Learn how to identify anxiety in children. They can include many signs and symptoms previously mentioned.  Dealing with anxiety in a healthy manner includes staying connected with others. Learn how to identify patterns in relationships that are unhealthy. Create a support system with family, friends, and a medical professional that will work with you. Talk about things that are bothering you. Know people to avoid that incite feelings of anxiety.

Gain knowledge and practice ways to calm yourself.  Find things to look at that make you feel good and bring on a smile.  Listen to relaxing sounds such as smooth jazz, ocean breezes, and the birds singing. Smell the scent of flowers, scented candles or your favorite perfume. Enjoy eating your favorite meal or something that lets you eat slowly such as soup, herbal tea, or hard candy.  Get a massage, soak in the tub, enjoy the outdoor air or play with a pet.  Enjoy physical activity such as bike riding, running, dancing, yoga or walking.

Try looking at your worries from a different perspective through understanding and learning your options. Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Avoid alcohol, eat right, limit caffeine intake and get plenty of sleep. Learn about therapy options such as cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.

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