Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

The Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

You may wonder why you are anxious. Is it something that you have done (or not done)? Are you at fault? Although you may feel your worries are all psychological, in fact an underlying biological condition may be triggering these feelings. Research indicates there are genetic and biological reasons that may explain why you experience feelings of anxiety. You may have inherited a brain neurotransmitter imbalance or a misguided adrenaline trigger. These are simply chemical imbalances in the body that can be safely and easily controlled with medications.

Women are at higher risk for anxiety disorders, and at least two-thirds of people with anxiety disorders are women. The reason anxiety disorders affect women more often than men is because women experience hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives, including menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. These hormonal fluctuations are thought to trigger imbalances in other neurotransmitter systems, often provoking conditions such as anxiety and depression.

There also are environmental factors that may contribute to anxiety. People with anxiety disorders often report having parents who were overprotective or controlling. Childhood separation anxiety, shyness, and limited social interaction also are associated with anxiety. Stressful events such as the death of or separation from a loved one, the loss of your home or business (such as in a fire or natural disaster), illness, and marital conflict may precipitate the onset of anxiety disorders.

Common stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine, some nonprescription (over-the-counter) decongestants, and appetite suppressants may trigger your feelings of anxiety. For some people, even a minimal amount of caffeine or nicotine can increase anxiety levels.

Fortunately, there are very effective treatments available, including psychological, medicinal, and self-care methods, for anxiety disorders. The first step is to learn more about anxiety and to identify if you have GAD.


How Much Stress Is Normal?

The truth is, everybody is different; if you're high-strung, your daily stress level will be greater than that of someone who is laid-back. A good way to judge if you're too tense is if your relationships, job and mental or physical health have deteriorated. Has your sleep or appetite changed? Do you still enjoy things that have given you pleasure in the past?

If any of those factors have shifted, you may be in stress overdrive, which means you need to pinpoint the source of your tension and, ideally, eliminate it. If your biggest thorn is something you can't get rid of, such as nagging in-laws, try to minimize your exposure.

Perhaps more vital is recognizing how you react to stress. Do you shut down or spread negativity? Once you have a handle on that, you can work on developing a healthier response, like releasing those bottled-up feelings at the gym or chatting with a supportive friend. Learning to prepare for stress can help, too. If talking to your landlord gets you riled up, put yourself in your comfort zone by listening to soothing music before you pick up the phone so you're less affected by the conversation. Remember, once you recognize the problem, you have the power to fix it.

Depression Explained

What is depression

The word 'depression' is used to describe everyday feelings of low mood which can affect us all from time to time. Feeling sad or fed up is a normal reaction to experiences that are upsetting, stressful or difficult; those feelings will usually pass.

If you are affected by depression, you are not 'just' sad or upset. You have an illness which means that intense feeling of persistent sadness, helplessness and hopelessness are accompanied by physical effects such as sleeplessness, a loss of energy, or physical aches and pains.

Sometimes people may not realise how depressed they are, especially if they have been feeling the same for a long time, if they have been trying to cope with their depression by keeping themselves busy, or if their depressive symptoms are more physical than emotional.

Here is a list of the most common symptoms of depression. As a general rule, if you have experienced four or more of these symptoms, for most of the day nearly every day, for over two weeks, then you should seek help.

Tiredness and loss of energy

Persistent sadness

Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem

Difficulty concentrating

Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting

Undue feelings of guilt or worthlessness

Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

Sleeping problems - difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual

Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends

Finding it hard to function at work/college/school

Loss of appetite

Loss of sex drive and/ or sexual problems

Physical aches and pains

Thinking about suicide and death


What Is Stress

Stress Kills, But What Is It?

Stress is work, traffic, relationships, time, money, kids, etc. We see stress as the outside forces that affect us, make us nervous and tighten our shoulders. We all have our own ways of coping with stress. People play golf, soak in a hot tub, smoke, drink coffee and exercise. In this sense, the solution to managing stress seems simple. But we must consider how our bodies interpret stress and even more important, how stress affects us physically. Whatever the source of the stress, our bodies translate it into pressure and tension; our bodies tighten up in reaction to stress. Regardless of the type of stress, physical reactions may include:

• Artery constriction (heart disease, high-blood pressure and strokes)
• The lymphatic system working overtime (decreased immunity, cancer, etc.)
• The digestive system slowing down (liver problems, digestive difficulties)
• Muscles pulling on the joints (arthritis, inflammation, disc problems)

This is a simplification of what really happens in the body. But it demonstrates the wear and tear that stress may take over time. If your body is consistently tense it may not function properly; every system in the body is challenged to work harder. In essence, you could be forcing your body to operate incorrectly without even realizing it. The best way to isolate stress is to think about how the nervous system is affected.

"You're a bundle of nerves!"

You've heard this before and probably have even been accused of it. Your nerves are connected to the outside world through your senses. The nervous system is one part of the body that may suffer when exposed to the stressful events that bombard us constantly. Negative impact on the nervous system may generate serious physical symptoms. Under stress, the nervous system may become overworked and your perception of the tension in your body can increase. The body may respond with headache, nausea, stiff joints, back pain, etc. Your body taps the nutrients needed to run the nervous system. You may be unable to feel these nutrients being depleted. It is important that needed nutrients are supplied to your nerves.

Therefore, proper diet, exercise and stress reduction exercises along with acceptance & self awareness that you are having issues are essential to your ongoing health. Please see the related sites on the left handside of this page under both articles and important links for further iformation. Help


What is Mental Illness?

What is Mental Illness?

Mental illness can be defined as the experiencing of severe and distressing psychological symptoms to the extent that normal functioning is seriously impaired, and some form of help is usually needed for recovery. Examples of such symptoms include anxiety, depressed mood, obsessional thinking, delusions and hallucinations. Help may take the form of counselling or psychotherapy, drug treatment and/or lifestyle change.

Professor Anthony Clare, psychiatrist and broadcaster defines mental illness as follows:“A diagnosis of mental illness usually means in practice that:

a) A person is experiencing symptoms characteristically regarded as psychological, such as anxiety, depression, elation, hallucinations, delusions, obsessions, compulsions;

b) The symptoms are severe and disabling; that is to say, the individual is distressed by them, cannot function, and feels ‘unwell’. The layman’s term is ‘breakdown’ and it is a good one for it suggests that the individual’s normal ability to cope with stress or a setback has broken down, that he/she has lost the normal ability to ease tension, lift mood, regain control, cope;

c) The individual is so afflicted that he or she cannot ordinarily recover control without external help [be it by means of talking, listening and learning (psychotherapy, behaviour therapy), physical treatment, (drugs, ECT) and/or social interventions (attention to stresses at work, in the home, within marriage or relating to money, status, power)];

d) The ill health can be caused by genetic factors; by loss such as bereavement or unemployment or financial disaster; by catastrophic stress such as war, disasters like the Lockerbie air tragedy or the Stardust fire; by physical illness; or indeed, a combination of some or all of these factors.

e) Rarely is there a single cause of a psychiatric illness and rarely, too, a single treatment.”

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