How to Know If You Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder
There is a lot to worry about during a day: paying bills, getting work done and turned in on time, health of loved ones. Sometimes, you even worry about how much you worry.
It can be difficult to know how much worry is too much. All people worry, and some amount of worry is related to improved levels of mental focus and physical performance.
That means some nervousness is good, but too much worry leads to unwanted consequences. It reduces the quality of life as more of your energy is devoted to worrying.
How much is too much? Where is the line?
When levels of worry begin to cross the line into anxiety, it is important to know what you are up against because there are many types of anxiety disorders. Each one has its own set of symptoms and criteria as set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a book published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Symptoms of GAD
One of the more common anxiety disorders is called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD currently affects about 7 million Americans, with about nine percent of Americans likely to have the disorder at some point during their life.
Since there is no test to indicate you have GAD, a mental health professional will ask you a series of questions about your life, your past experiences, and current symptoms to decide if you meet the criteria for a diagnosis.
Do You Meet the Criteria?
The mental health professional will look for six separate aspects of your functioning:
Does excessive worry occur more often than not for six months or more? Do you worry about multiple items like school, work, relationships, money, appearance or only one thing?
Do you find it challenging to control, reduce, or manage the worry? Do you have three or more of the following symptoms?
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Easily tired and worn down
- Trouble paying attention or having your mind go blank
- Irritable or easily annoyed
- Tense or rigid
- Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early
Do the above symptoms create major problems in your life by affecting your work or social life?
Are these symptoms better explained by another influence like a drug or medical condition? Other substances that can trigger anxious symptoms include:
- Methamphetamine/crystal meth
- Stimulant medications (like those used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
Are these symptoms better explained by another mental health condition? Many disorders can be confused with GAD:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Depressive disorders
- Bipolar disorders
The primary issue with GAD will be the excessive worry, anxiety, and fear that persists for a long period without being proportionally related to the situation you are worrying about.