What is Generalized Anxiety?

Common Worries vs Generalized Anxiety

Fear, stress and anxiety are normal feelings and experiences, but they are different than living with generalized anxiety. With generalized anxiety, your fear or worry does not go away and can get worse over time. If you live with generalized anxiety, you may worry about the same things that other people do, but your worries are at an elevated level. A helpful approach to distinguishing if your anxiety is a problem is to identify the cause of the anxiety and then assess whether the anxiety symptoms are a proportional response to it. Worries, fears and intrusive thoughts that are extreme, unrealistic or exaggerated and interfere with normal life and functioning could constitute generalized anxiety. This constant fear and worry can interfere with daily activities, work, school, or relationships, which makes it mentally and physically exhausting. Constant anxiety can drain your energy, interfere with sleep and wear out your body. 

Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. You go about your activities filled with exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke them. You can’t turn off your anxious thoughts. They keep running through your head, on endless repeat.

Anxiety Statistics

If you think you might be struggling with an anxiety disorder, you are not alone:

  • Over 40 million American adults are afflicted by anxiety disorders
  • 2/5 of American adults have experienced an generalized anxiety at some point in their life
  • Only 1/3 of adults suffering from anxiety disorders receive treatment
  • Only 1/5 of teenagers suffering anxiety disorders receive treatment
  • Anxiety disorders are estimated to cost society over $42 billion per year

    Signs and Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety

    No two people are the same, which is why not everyone who lives with generalized anxiety will have the same symptoms, but most people will experience a combination of emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms.

    Emotional Symptoms:

    • Constant worries running through your head
    • Feeling like your anxiety is uncontrollable
    • Intrusive thoughts about things that make you anxious; you try to avoid thinking about them, but you can’t
    • An inability to tolerate uncertainty; you need to know what’s going to happen in the future
    • A pervasive feeling of apprehension or dread

    Behavioral Symptoms:

    • Inability to relax, enjoy quiet time or be by yourself
    • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on things
    • Putting things off because you feel overwhelmed
    • Avoiding situations that make you anxious

    Physical symptoms:

    • Feeling tense; having muscle tightness or body aches
    • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep 
    • Feeling edgy, restles, or jumpy
    • Stomach problems, nausea or diarrhea

    Talk Therapy for Generalized Anxiety

    Talking to a therapist can help you control your anxiety symptoms so you can make lifestyle changes. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy that is helpful for anxiety. CBT examines the way you look at the world and yourself. Your therapist will help you identify automatic negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety. You will also learn relaxation techniques to help decrease the physical over-arousal of the "fight or flight" response. To get paired with a therapist who specializes in anxiety, click here!