Life is full of emotions. Most of us experience feelings of joy and sadness. However, constant, ongoing anxiety can be extremely difficult to live with, as the cause can be very hard to pinpoint.
Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can't stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. In people with GAD, the worry often is unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread. Eventually, the anxiety so dominates the person's thinking that it interferes with daily functioning, including work, school, social activities, and relationships.
GAD affects the way a person thinks, but the anxiety can lead to physical symptoms, as well. Symptoms of GAD can include:
- Excessive, ongoing worry and tension
- An unrealistic view of problems
- Restlessness or a feeling of being "edgy"
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent urination
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Easily startled
In addition, people with GAD often have other anxiety disorders (such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias), suffer from depression, and/or abuse drugs or alcohol.
Depression can appear as an all-encompassing low feeling accompanied by low self-esteem and loss of interest or pleasure that hangs on for weeks. If it becomes more intense or begins to interfere with daily activities, then it is a more serious problem. It is estimated that 20 million people in the Unites States have depression. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2010). Symptoms of depression can vary, but typical symptoms include:
- Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
- Dramatic changes in appetite, possibly accompanied by weight gain or loss
- Extreme difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and helplessness
- Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and inappropriate guilt
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, or activities that were once enjoyed
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Depression can occur at any age. However, statistics show that depression occurs more often in women than men, through stress, loss of a loved one, hormonal changes or traumatic events.
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