Never Ending Worry: Living With Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Feeling nervous and worried is a natural and quite common response to a frightening stimulus. Anxiety is natural even if it brings us discomfort. Our bodies are prepared for danger. For example, if there is a lion running after us, our bodies do the work for us. Blood starts pumping much faster, our hearts start beating more rapidly, we start to sweat. Adrenaline is coursing through our veins and we are ready to bolt, we are ready for flight.
Fight or flight is a physiological reaction that is responsible for getting us out of a dangerous situation. Our brain goes into alert mode and our sympathetic nervous system reacts and activates the release of norepinephrine. Hormone cortisol produces and increases our blood sugar and blood pressure. This fight or flight reaction causes our digestive system to slow down or stop, our auditory functions to stop working and our heart rate to goes up.
Imagine living a life where your fight or flight response is activated constantly? Imagine your heart racing, shaking, and sweating all over, but instead of it lasting for a few minutes, it is a constant state of over-alertness. People diagnosed with any type of anxiety disorder live in a vicious cycle. People with generalized anxiety disorder, however, take it a step further where they aren’t feeling anxiety to a particular stimuli or event, but to a great number of them.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by:
- Chronic, excessive worry over multiple events and stimuli
- It is difficult to control the worry
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance (e.g. insomnia)
There is another “F” to the fight or flight response that has been added recently by professionals all around the world. Nowadays, the reaction is being called “Fight or Flight or Freeze” Freeze? You may ask. Why would you freeze if there is a lion chasing you? That is a good question, indeed. When it comes to Anxiety Disorders, and especially Generalized Anxiety Disorder, it is crucial to remember the constant non-stop worry and nervousness over a great number of things. Your brain is your own enemy, thinking and over-thinking everything that can go wrong with any given situation. At some point you just give up hope on any type of improvement. When you do give up hope, that’s where “freeze” comes in. You see, “fight or flight” is all about hope. That lion will not eat me because I will run away. “Freeze” comes in without hope and you are left like a deer caught in headlights. Your eyes wide open and your heart racing wildly but you are stuck, frozen in place and unable to move.
Those who have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or any other anxiety disorder often find themselves in a position where they aren’t able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and are stuck in a cycle of worrying and stressing on an everyday basis. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, do not suffer it alone. Talking with a friend or a loved one can sometimes brighten up the day. Educate yourself on some techniques that can help you with your anxiety. If all else fails, there are many professionals out there who have been trained in ways that they can help you.
Valerie is a psychology student who is trying to pursue a career in Cognitive Neuroscience. She is passionate about the brain and finds it fascinating. She loves learning about new discoveries and research that is going on in the world of psychology and neuroscience. One day she hopes to contribute to the scientific community!