I’m a worrier, but I’m also clinically anxious. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD. I’m not alone. 3.1% of Americans over the age of 18 are affected by generalized anxiety disorders. That’s 6.8 million adults, with two women for every one man affected.
Do you think you might have GAD?
The complete list of criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disoders DSM-5 (published in 2013 by the American Psychological Association) can be found here. But in a nutshell, the symptoms of GAD are as follows:
- Excessive anxiety and worry about a number of events/activities
- Difficulty controlling that worry
- The anxiety and worry are associated with several (technically 3+) of the following:
- Restlessness; being “keyed up”
- Difficulty concentrating; mind goes blank a lot
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbances
- The anxiety impairs your ability to function normally in day-to-day life
- The anxiety is not explained by another mental disorder, medical condition, or substance-use
Ok, so let’s say this all sounds a lot like you. Depending on the extent to which that third filled-in bullet point (a.k.a. impairing your ability to function) is true, you may or may not want to talk to your doctor and/or a therapist. I would personally recommend it. My GAD is relatively mild, but I’ve found talk-therapy to be very helpful.
I initially meant for this blog to be a little more of a light-hearted approach to psychology and defensive pessimism, with minimal stuff about anxiety and me personally. But I can feel myself shifting away from that. Partially because it’s easy to think about stuff to write about that relates to anxiety/me, since I’m anxious most of the time and me even more of the time. But also partially because the more I write on here, the more I want to talk about it.
Lots of effort and progress have been made in recent years to de-stigmatize mental illness, and I’d like to do my own part, even if that goal sounds a little lofty for my tiny little Internet corner. But there it is.