Everybody occasionally worries about bills, work and relationships, but for people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), the worrying never stops. Because anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, it’s a disorder often missed or misdiagnosed by doctors. For me, anxiety had been a constant presence in my life, both for me personally and as a witness to my mother’s lifelong battle with panic attacks. But it was only after years of treating the symptoms that I started getting help for the real cause. These are the common symptoms that can help you recognize when anxiety is negatively impacting your life and health.
1) Worrying all the time: you worry every day, or find yourself unable to stop thinking about your worries even when you know you should. A cognitive behavioural therapist we worked with described this symptom as a “worry cycle” getting caught in a vicious loop that you cannot break free from.
2) Having trouble falling or staying asleep: sleep becomes difficult because your mind is racing, or you are so tired you fall asleep easily but wake up during the night.
3) Feeling tired all the time: For me, even when I did manage to sleep, I still woke up feeling tired, primarily because I wasn’t really getting rest, my mind, even in sleep, continued to race on.
4) Having headaches, stomach aches or generalized aches and pains: this is probably the one set of symptoms that can lead doctors down a very different diagnostic path. When I was experiencing daily stomach pains, it tooks months of testing, including endoscopies and colonoscopies to rule out other illnesses and diagnose anxiety and stress as the cause.
5) Being unable to concentrate or relax: because your mind is caught in a worry cycle it becomes very difficult to keep full awareness on the daily activities of life. I would find my mind wandering when I was in the shower, forgetting if I had washed my hair, or worse, on the highway, realizing I had driven many miles without knowing how I did so.