Beyond The Stereotype: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Trembling nerves, butterflies, shaky hands. Everyone feels the anxious from time to time, and it’s a completely normal reaction to stressful or unfamiliar situations. Most people can pinpoint the source of their anxiety- a major test, a job interview, or a new school.

But what happens when you don’t know what’s causing your sudden “nerves”? What does it mean when you’re having a perfectly content day and suddenly feel attacked by an overwhelming feeling of fear?

This can be known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which affects up to 6.8 million people in the United States. GAD is exactly as it sounds- it’s anxiety that has no clear source, and can be mildly inconvenient or completely life crippling.


How Do I Know If I Have GAD?

People who have Generalized Anxiety often feel, well, anxious. It can come on at any time, and symptoms usually include shaking, tearfulness, chest pain, or shallow breathing. Other symptoms, which can be continuously felt, are feelings of restlessness, irritability and foggy thinking.

How Does Someone Develop GAD?

Sometimes GAD crops up in our lives after traumatic events, but for others, it’s all in the genes. Brains malfunction as much as any other organ, and so if your family has a history of mental illness like GAD then that could be the source of your anxiety. So if you’re shaking like a leaf in public places, blame the serotonin (or lack of).

Isn’t It The Same As Depression?

No, although it’s not uncommon for both to be present. Depression usually feels more like a slow, sleepy, surrender to life. Anxiety, on the other hand, tends to be more jittery, dizzying, and can be exacerbated until it turns into uncontrollable panic.

What’s Making You So Anxious?

More often than not, it’s nothing. We worry about our day to day lives, future interactions, potential failures. And the most frustrating part is that we are aware that it is irrational. Little issues are blown way out of proportion because we become overwhelmed too easily.

Can’t You Just Like, Relax?

Genius! Never thought of that! Thanks for the tip, bud!
Sarcasm aside, we would if it was that easy. It’s not 100% out of our control, but it can be troublesome. Anxiety levels can range from mildly uncomfortable to full blown panic in a crowded room. Not to mention that anything and everything gets overanalyzed until you’ve come up with a hundred different outcomes, 99 of which probably aren’t too good.

How Can It Be Treated?

Out of the over 6 million people with GAD, less than half are being treated for it. The reasons could be lack of awareness, misdiagnoses or fear of the stigma. Either way, reaching out for help is the first step in working through anxiety.
There’s no complete cure to anxiety, but there are ways to treat the symptoms. One of the most obvious ways is medication, which does a great job maintaining the chemicals in our brains so we can function properly. However, just medicating isn’t enough. Staying on top of the medication is key, but some days are still just too much and when you have anxiety it can be hard to find a way to cope. Staying physically healthy, doing things you enjoy and communicating your feelings to others can go a long way in helping to keep anxiety at bay.

It’s a tough road, and is one that I have been crawling for a long time. For the first time in a long time I am a little closer to being confident and worry free(ish). So while each day may seem like it stretches forever, remember that it gets better. Just keep on keeping on.


  1. Never even heard about GAD but thanks for bringing it to light! (researches more)

    1. Yes, it's crazy how little we know about different mental disorders, especially the more subtle ones!


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