What Is Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) And How Do You Cope With It?
Most of us have, at some time or the other, felt “butterflies in the stomach”, a feeling of nervous anticipation before a major event. Examinations, job interviews, important presentations, wedding, the birth of a child, or even during the last few overs of a cricket match - we can feel nervous about the imminent situation and the outcome. Feeling nervous during life events is natural, and in a way demonstrates our eagerness to give our best to that particular event. But, not every person feels equally nervous in similar situations. How we react to a situation, and to what extent might our reaction contain a palpable manifestation of our feelings, depends on our personalities. Some people are more prone to nervousness, and some are rarely ever nervous. But if this nervousness shows up more frequently than circumstances dictate, and if it potentially disrupts or disturbs regular functioning, it may be termed anxiety disorder. How is anxiety disorder different from nervousness? Nervousness is a temporary reaction to a unique or unprecedented situation. You are going out on your first date with the girl you have had the longest crush on. Of course, you are feeling nervous, and this nervousness will make you check the mirror, your wallet, your shoes and even your watch umpteen number of times. But you are surely not going to call off the date just because you are feeling nervous! Once the two of you meet and the conversation starts flowing, all those butterflies in the pit of your stomach will vanish without you noticing it. You may have to worry about the venue of the second date later but you surely will not feel anxious before the second, third or subsequent dates. Anxiety, when classified as a disorder, is actually an impediment that can prevent you from doing your work and leading your life satisfactorily. There is a constant soundtrack of premonitions buzzing in your head about what all can possibly go wrong in random situations, and not just in one or two exceptional situations. When you think of an elevator, you may start worrying about getting trapped in it due to power outage or technical malfunctions, or worst, imagine yourself hurtling down the shaft. Without even setting foot inside a lift, you may experience palpitations and heavy sweating. Such extreme and fearful visualisations may result in you avoiding the lift as much as possible, and using the staircase instead. Anxiety does not go away by simply avoiding one situation; it re-attaches itself to another situation and creates more panic. From worrying about the dangers of using a lift, you may suddenly feel anxious about being late for the meeting, or even about the weather turning bad the next day. Pathological anxiety is an endless cycle in which you get embroiled more and more with passing time. It is like a train that keeps jumping tracks but never stops running. What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and what are the symptoms? Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mild mental illness characterised by mental and physical distress, agitation and obsessive worry felt by a person for random and unrelated situations over a sustained period of time. The answers to these questions hold the key to defining GAD –
- Do you keep constantly worrying about everything and anything?
- Once you have faced a particular situation which you were worrying about, do you feel relaxed?
- When you are worried, do you feel physical discomfort, like tightening in the chest, increased heart rate, unusually heavy sweating, irregular or shallow breathing, trembling of hands, fidgeting, and/or difficulty in relaxing or falling asleep?
- Do you feel irritable and lose your temper more frequently when you are worried?
- Do you find it hard to not think of things that make you feel worried?
- Do you find it difficult to concentrate on work or other important aspects of your life because of your tendency to worry?
- Do you suffer from any chronic physiological condition?
- Were you ever diagnosed as being clinically depressed?
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