What is an anxiety disorder?
Everyone sometimes worries about something. For example about money, relationships, children, health, or problems at work. Worrying is actually a way to be well prepared for situations. For example, you think about the problem, the possible dangers and possible solutions. Sometimes people worry so much that worrying degenerates into worry. You often hear people who worry that they think in ‘circles’: they always think the same way.
If people worry a lot, have been doing this for quite some time and feel stressed, we call this a ‘generalized anxiety disorder’, or also anxiety disorder. This tension often manifests itself in complaints such as restlessness, sleep disorders, concentration problems and abdominal pain. With generalized is meant that the fear (worrying) relates to different topics and not to one topic, such as with a phobia. With a phobia, people fear a specific situation or object, such as heights, spiders or injections.
Symptoms anxiety disorder
We speak of a generalized anxiety disorder if someone suffers from excessive anxiety and concern regarding various situations or activities for at least six months. We speak of an anxiety disorder to indicate that the anxiety that is experienced is disproportionate to the real danger.
People with an anxiety disorder often appear to overestimate the dangers of certain situations. Moreover, they underestimate their own possibilities to do something about those potential dangers. Furthermore, people with anxiety disorder find it difficult to control their feelings of anxiety and anxiety. Their worry continues and they seem unable to stop this. Worrying is experienced as very unpleasant. These people feel very tense about this and often also experience physical stress complaints. Common subjects they worry about are: that something happens to family members, fear of failure or failure (fear of failure), serious illnesses and the inability to fulfill obligations.
Worrying is the future, that is, people are not worried about what has happened, but about what is about to happen. What is also striking about worrying is that people with anxiety disorders keep wondering whether a certain ‘danger’ will occur. They do not, however, consider what it would mean if that danger did indeed arise. Often they do everything to convince themselves that the danger (for example, that something happens to their children) does not occur, for example by asking reassurance from others, or checking it. This reassures them in the short term, but in the long term fear often increases as a result.
How does an anxiety disorder arise?
It is not entirely known how a generalized anxiety disorder arises. Worrying is basically a normal human trait, but people with anxiety disorder do this to an extreme extent. The question is which factors cause some people to worry much more than others. Various factors seem to play a role in this.
Attack Some people have a tendency to fear. This is often visible in babies, some babies are frightened faster than others. A generalized anxiety disorder usually begins in childhood. Most people with a generalized anxiety disorder cannot state exactly when their disorder started. Actually, this is not surprising, after all, worrying is a characteristic that people are familiar with and that they do not consider unusual. Gradually this concern increases, to a level where it is accompanied by tension and physical complaints. That is often the moment when people with anxiety disorder seek help and only become really aware of the fact that they are very worried.
Way of thinking People with an anxiety disorder have a way of thinking and looking at the world that is ‘colored’ by danger. They see dangers that others do not see. They also overestimate the chance that the dreaded disaster (for example the crash of an airplane or getting fired) will actually happen. This way of looking at the world originated in childhood. In the education of people with an anxiety disorder, it is striking that often their parents also found the ‘outside world’ unsafe and often warned their children about potential dangers.
Education Parents who have set high standards for their child may have impeded their child’s self-confidence. This process can also play a role in the development of an anxiety disorder. People with a generalized anxiety disorder often appear to have been afraid of failing as a child, afraid of not doing something right. Fear of failure often goes together with perfectionism: wanting to do something very well, just to prevent people from failing.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
A generalized anxiety disorder occurs in around three percent of the population. An anxiety disorder often starts at a young age and usually does not disappear without treatment. However, the extent to which people suffer from this can vary. People with a generalized anxiety disorder know periods of months or even longer, that they have little or no trouble, alternating with periods in which they experience a lot of anxiety. Especially in periods of stress or major changes / events, their concerns often increase.
When to the doctor?
So there is actually no clear distinction between ‘normal’ care and ‘unnecessary’ care. In some cases it is very clear that the concern is excessive, while in others it is much less clear. The best criterion for determining whether you are too worried is to find out to what extent you are bothered by it. If you find your own concerns exaggerated and you also suffer from this, it is advisable to consult your doctor.
People with anxiety disorder feel tense when they are worried. They also experience physical complaints, such as insomnia and muscle pain, that are related to the tension. It often happens that people visit their doctor for these complaints, and not so much for the anxiety disorder itself. If you often experience physical stress complaints and are also very concerned, it is good to inform your doctor about this. Your doctor can do something about your physical symptoms in the short term, but in the longer term it is wiser to tackle the cause.
People who worry a lot and feel tense often receive soothing medication. In the short term, these drugs can help you feel calmer, but in the longer term habituation can occur and you may even become addicted to it. Certainly if you use such drugs for longer, it is advisable to consult your doctor if you want to reduce. This is because withdrawal symptoms can occur, including anxiety complaints. A long-term solution often requires treatment by a psychologist. Your doctor can refer you to a psychologist. Many people with an anxiety disorder who have conversations with a psychologist, notice improvements within a very short time.
What can you do about it yourself?
If you suspect that you are worrying unnecessarily, or that there is a generalized anxiety disorder, doctordokter.nl recommends that you seek help. The best thing to do is contact your doctor. You can use the advice given below to get started yourself, if therapy is not possible in the short term. You can also use the advice in addition to the therapy that you follow. Discuss these recommendations with your therapist.
Although people with generalized anxiety disorder worry a lot, they often try to suppress worry. They try to convince themselves that they “don’t have to worry so much.” This usually does not work. The harder you try to stop it, the more you worry. To do this, you can perform the following experiment: try not to think of white bears for a minute. The more you try not to think of white bears, the more often the image of a white bear appears in your mind. What you can do better is to try to worry differently. You can read more about this below.
- First of all, buy a notebook in which you can keep track of your thoughts. Try to plan fixed times, for example every day between 19:00 and 19:30, during which you will deliberately worry. Then write down your thoughts in the notebook.
- Then view whether certain themes return. A theme can be, for example, ‘fear that something will happen to my family members’ or ‘fear of a bad assessment’.
- See if you might overestimate certain hazards. Ask yourself critical questions, such as ‘what is the worst that could happen?’ and “do I have concrete evidence that the danger is indeed occurring?” and “how great is the chance that the danger will occur?”
- Try to formulate other thoughts that can help you and that are better in line with reality. For example: “I don’t get dismissed just like that and if I get dismissed, this is unreasonable and I no longer want to work for this employer.”
- Also try to find out what solutions you have for certain problems. People often underestimate their own possibilities. When people get fired, they often underestimate the possibilities for getting another job, sometimes even nicer, quickly.
- Imagine challenges for yourself. Do things that you find scary. For example, make a mistake on purpose or be deliberately careless. This way you can check whether your frightened suspicions come true, or whether it might be better than expected.
- There are also possibilities to follow self-help programs against anxiety via the internet.
General advice and precautions
People with a generalized anxiety disorder often end up in a vicious circle. Worrying is accompanied by physical stress complaints, such as concentration problems and sleep disorders. This often results in ‘new’ problems, such as a depressed mood, fatigue and a reduced concentration (for example at work). As a result of this loss of concentration, the chance that these people will indeed make mistakes increases, and they are so afraid of that. Also, people with an anxiety disorder do not have access to certain tasks due to the complaints, or cannot afford the energy, to pay sufficient attention to their partner or children.
By taking a number of simple measures, you can prevent these ‘domino effects’ of problems. Stimulants, such as alcohol, coffee and medicines, have an adverse effect. It is advisable to limit these resources and to ensure a healthy diet. Sport and physical activity also have a positive effect on your well-being: they provide relaxation and distraction. Often people also sleep better if they are more physically active. Swallowed by the stress and tension, many people do not have enough time for relaxing activities. That is why it is wise to consciously free up space in your agenda for relaxing activities. Measures of this kind do not provide a solution for the ’cause’ of the generalized anxiety disorder (worry), but it ensures that the consequences remain limited.
Source : dokterdokter