Psychological disorders affect a person’s everyday life, as well as the lives of the people around them. A psychological disorder is a “harmful dysfunction” in which behavior is judged to be atypical, disturbing, maladaptive, and unjustifiable (Myers, 2001). There are many different types of disorders today, and they have been around since ancient times when they believed these disorders were some type of supernatural occurrences. There are several categories of disorders: anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, and schizophrenia.
It’s normal to worry and feel tense or scared when under pressure or facing a stressful situation. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when we feel threatened. Although it may be unpleasant, anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxiety can help us stay alert and focused, spur us to action, and motivate us to solve problems. But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming, when it interferes with your relationships and activities—that’s when you’ve crossed the line from normal anxiety into the territory of anxiety disorders.
There are six major types of anxiety disorders, each with their own distinct symptom profile: generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) involves anxiety and worry that is excessive and unrelenting. This high-level anxiety makes normal life difficult and relaxation impossible. If you have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) you may worry about the same things that other people do: health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work.
But you take these worries to a new level. A co-worker’s careless comment about the economy becomes a vision of an imminent pink slip; a phone call to a friend that isn’t immediately returned becomes anxiety that the relationship is in trouble. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. Whether you realize that your anxiety is more intense than the situation calls for or believes that your worrying is protective in some way, the end result is the same. You can’t turn off your anxious thoughts. They keep running through your head, on endless repeat.
The symptoms of GAD fluctuate. You may notice better and worse times of the day, or better and worse days in general. And while stress doesn’t cause generalized anxiety disorder, it can make the symptoms worse. Not everyone with generalized anxiety disorder has the same symptoms, but most people with GAD experience a combination of a number of the following physical and psychological symptoms: muscle tension, aches or soreness, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, stomach problems, nausea, diarrhea, jumpiness or unsteadiness, edginess or restlessness, tiring easily.
If you have GAD, there are many things you can do to make yourself feel better. For some, self-help strategies are enough to get anxiety symptoms under control. For others, additional therapy and support is needed. But in either case, self-help coping techniques will only help reduce your overall anxiety levels. Effective self-help techniques for GAD include: Dealing with your worry and anxiety in more productive ways. This may involve challenging irrational worrisome thoughts, learning how to postpone worrying, and learning to accept uncertainty in your life.
Make any necessary anxiety-reducing lifestyle changes, such as eliminating caffeine, starting an exercise program, improving your diet, and drawing on the support of family and friends. Learn and practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing. As you strengthen your ability to relax, your nervous system will become less reactive and you’ll be less vulnerable to anxiety and stress. A number of treatments can help reduce the symptoms of GAD.
Most effective treatment plans will incorporate both self-help measures and therapy. In more severe cases of GAD, medication may also be used. Medication can be effective for GAD. However, it is generally recommended only as a temporary measure to relieve symptoms at the beginning of the treatment process, with therapy the key to long-term success. There are three types of medication prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder: Buspirone, Benzodiazepines, and Antidepressants.