Your Anxiety: Typical or Troublesome?

By Patricia Danflous

Everyone experiences at least some level of anxiety from time to time.  While it’s certainly not unusual to feel anxious about meeting a deadline, pulling off a job interview or taking a final exam, the degree and frequency of your angst is what separates the typical from the troublesome.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is fairly common, affecting 6.8 million adults — or 3.1% of the U.S. population — occurring more frequently in women.  How is it different from basic apprehension? GAD is characterized by persistent, excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday things.  It is diagnosed when a person has three or more symptoms and finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months.

Physicians affiliated with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explain that generalized anxiety disorder improves, but is not cured with medications or psychotherapy.  Additionally, lifestyle changes, coping skills and relaxation techniques can help.

For those looking for a natural way to alleviate anxiety symptoms, suggested methods include breathing lavender oil or using lavender oils in a relaxing massage, following a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, bathing in Epsom salts, eliminating or minimizing the intake of caffeine and sugar, exercising regularly or relaxing with a hot cup of chamomile tea.

If uneasy, doom-and-gloom feelings persist because of real or perceived situations, you may need to consult a mental health professional.  

The Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment can help you measure your level of GAD symptoms, which include:

  • Restlessness or feeling on-edge
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or having your mind go blank 
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling worry
  • Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep; or experiencing restless, unsatisfying sleep)

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