This article does not intend to give advice on how to diagnose or cure anxiety disorders.
The intent is to offer information that will hopefully provide a better understanding of people who suffer from general anxiety disorder (GAD). In reading this article, you will learn how anxiety affects a person’s life. It describes the every-day experiences of those who suffer silently with GAD as they try to deal with many different issues at the same time. Most of them will not tell you how they feel, how they cope, and how debilitating anxiety can be.
People with GAD need your understanding and support, which is possible only if you know the basic facts about this disorder.
There are many types and levels of anxiety. Each person suffers differently and exhibits different symptoms. Put simply, to be a person who suffers from general anxiety is to be an obsessive worrier, someone who is always worrying about something—mostly about health, money, and uncertainty about the future. This disorder is an emotional challenge that robs people of their happiness and life satisfaction.
Worry destroys one’s peace of mind: The affected person feels bad and is faced with the constant struggle of how to fix the problem. Anxiety produces many different physical and mental symptoms, potentially resulting in hypochondria (abnormal anxiety about imaginary symptoms). After many years of intensive worrying, the person becomes sick of worry: In other words, the worrier is tired of worrying…and starts to worry about worrying too much.
Do not tell the person with GAD “not to worry”; they already know that they should stop worrying. They are “what if “ thinkers who take everything too personally. They have a hard time being assertive, which make them uncomfortable in some social situations.
For them, managing stress is one of the most difficult things to do. Stress is a source of many physical and mental symptoms for anyone, but for individuals with GAD, it is a big challenge—always having to deal with, and calm, a worrying mind.
People with GAD have high expectations for themselves and for others. Their negative thinking patterns lead to more stress and to dissatisfaction with life.
To some people, individuals suffering from anxiety appear to be controlling, confused, uneasy, and difficult to deal with. This perception is a false one, and it is not a fair description. These people are worriers who are suffering. Yes, sometimes they are moody (because of high stress and “what if” thinking).They want to be sure that everything is under control (self-protection), including the weather and the government’s foreign policy, but this is how anxiety affects every-day lives. These thoughts are not about control in and of itself—they are about anxiety.
The negativity about individuals with GAD, which result from distorted perceptions, stigmatizes them as being “difficult people.” They are not difficult people, however: They are simply people who are dealing with their distracted, distorted, busy, and stressful minds—minds which project a negative picture of the external/internal world. If your mind were like theirs—full of anxiety—you would perceive the world in the same way.
If you really want to help people with anxiety, accept this:
They are dealing with re-occurring thoughts and with worrisome, repetitive ideas that they cannot turn off at will. The way their minds process is extremely exhausting and can be very annoying, frightening, and, at times, gruesome. They are obsessed with death, illness, and with hurting themselves or others.
People with GAD must deal with a tough reality: They always feel a bit on edge, which can be frustrating for them. The good news is this: Anxiety is treatable. No one with GAD has to suffer in silence.