Will I find a new job? Will my spouse’s test come back negative? Will my sister forgive me for the fight we had.
At some point, everyone has wished they could predict how a troubling situation will pan out. But when do feelings of worry turn into symptoms of anxiety? Here’s how to tell the difference and when to consider seeking help.
Worry vs. Anxiety
Occasionally feeling worried or uncomfortable is a normal part of life. However, being bombarded by thoughts that are overwhelming or uncontrollable could be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a common form of anxiety that produces chronic nervousness and physical tension.
GAD tends to cause concern about the same sorts of things everyone deals with — family, health, finances and so on — suggests the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Although many people can brush off these unpleasant thoughts after a while, a person with GAD experiences worries in a more intense, irrational manner that can interfere with other aspects of his or her life.
For instance, the average person might feel slightly troubled after seeing bad news about the economy on TV. Someone with GAD, on the other hand, might stay up all night afraid he or she is going to get laid off. And for the next several days, a deep sense of fear or dread may follow for how he or she will be able to pay the bills without a job.
Learn more about anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder affects nearly 7 million Americans and is more common in women than men, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It tends to develop slowly, often during one’s teen years or young adulthood.
GAD symptoms can vary from one person to the next. Often, they’ll include:
- Persistent, unreasonable worrying that you can’t control or forget about
- No tolerance for uncertainty
- Difficulty making decisions, or fear you’ll make the wrong one
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling restless or unable to relax
- Avoiding situations that may seem tough or overwhelming
GAD can also cause physical symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, stomach pain, nausea or diarrhea, according to Mayo Clinic. You might also feel edgy or jumpy, even around those you’re close to. Muscle tensions and similar aches are common as well.
Coping With Anxiety
If you experience symptoms of anxiety, or feel as if your worrying is getting in the way of everyday life, it may be time to talk with your doctor. Anxiety is unlikely to go away on its own, and over time, your symptoms may become worse and harder to treat.
Fortunately, there are tools that can help you manage GAD symptoms, like behavioral therapy and anti-anxiety medication. By discussing your symptoms with your doctor, you can work together to determine the best treatment options for you — and start living a happier, less worrisome life.
Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.