Generalized Anxiety Disorder

What is GAD?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events for no obvious reason. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school.

Mental Symptoms of GAD

  • Persistent worrying about things that are out of your control
  • Believing an unproportionally negative outcome of events (worst case scenario)
  • Catastrophizing 
  • Inability to relax
  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Fear of making the wrong decision
  • Indecisiveness
  • Fear of failure, can cause excessive procrastination
    Perfectionism  

Physical Symptoms GAD

  • Exhaustion and/or trouble sleeping
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Chronic nervousness (easily startled)
  • Irritability
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Panic attacks

Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to cope with GAD

GAD programs your brain to think in a certain way, and deeply affects your thought processes. CBT is a method of challenging those thought processes, until they are no longer influenced by GAD. A method that many find to be very useful is challenging your inner critic. Your inner critic referring to the voice in your head that tells you things like everyone is judging you, you’ll never be good enough, etc. Instead of accepting these thoughts and allowing them to affect your mental health, contradict them. (1) Identify the anxious thought. (2) Break it down into its core components. (3) Truly consider the reasoning behind this thought. (4) Come up with a list of facts that disprove the thought. The more you use this method the easier it becomes, until it is second nature; rendering these negative thoughts powerless.

When to seek medical help

  • When your worrying (anxiety) interferes with your social life, work, mental health, relationships.
  • If you feel chronically depressed or anxious
  • If you are struggling with substance use as a method of coping
  • History of other mental health concerns
  • Have suicidal thoughts or behaviours- seek help immediately (833-456-4566)

GAD Related Shame
Diagnosed or undiagnosed, having GAD can feel debilitating. It can cause you to feel like there is something innately wrong with you, and you are less than capable. This is not the case. It is estimated that over 700,000 adults in Canada struggle with GAD, it is one of the most common mental illnesses. Its effects are also as real as any other illness. For example If you had a heart condition that affected your daily life, you wouldn’t blame yourself. Do the same for GAD, it is a physical chemical imbalance in your brain, you cannot control it, you can only control how you deal with it.

Accepting GAD
It is easier said than done but the first step is accepting that you have an illness that can affect your ability to function. Then decide: what are you going to do with that information? Are you going to spiral into the negative thoughts? Or identify what parts of the illness you can control? Seek out resources. And continue being a functional happy person; because it is what you deserve. If you just went through the above thought process and chose the second option, congratulations you just practiced CBT successfully. Keep at it! Your mental health will thank you.

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