Are You Worrying Yourself Sick?

Are You Worrying Yourself Sick?

When everyday worries become an anxiety disorder

Sweaty palms? Racing pulse? A stomach that feels like Popeye just tied it up in his best sheepshank? Sounds like you’re worrying about something. In this day and age anxiety is a major part of everyday life. From opening that red letter bill from the bank to making sure the kids are doing alright at school, it seems that life has a neat way of keeping us on edge.

Professionals in mental health support know that feelings of anxiety or “worry” are a natural response to stress, and can even be beneficial. But what if those feelings won’t go away, or turn even the most trivial of events into an all-out disaster waiting to happen? Then everyday worry has crossed the line into generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and you need to do something about it.

Worrying isn’t always a bad thing. This might seem an odd fact, but think about it. If you’re worrying about your financial situation, and feeling a bit stressed out, it could force you to focus on the situation and take steps to pay off that credit card bill that’s been looming since Christmas. So in that instance the feeling of anxiety has been a beneficial trigger to tackling the root cause of the issue. However, if you’ve wiped the slate clean and are still constantly thinking about the bailiffs knocking on your door or losing your house then the anxiety has taken over.

One key insight from those in mental health support is that constant worrying is an internal problem. Although the initial cause of stress is external, the sustained feelings of anxiety, that nagging voice that keeps you distracted at work and awake at night, is an internal response. Once you realise this you can then focus on dealing with the external cause more productively.

Like so many things in life anxiety exists on a spectrum, and at some point along that spectrum normal feelings of worry and anxiety tip over into GAD. In GAD the feelings of worry are intense and persistent, with sufferers often saying that they cannot switch off, or that their mind is constantly drawn back to the cause of their worry. This can lead to lack of sleep and fatigue, which in turn reduces our resilience to stress, leading to more worry. It’s also common for outsiders to view the worry as excessive to the situation, though the sufferer will probably not.

If you think your feelings of worry are excessive it’s important to seek professional advice from someone in mental health support. Whatever you do, don’t let worrying and anxiety take over your life. If you’re constantly worrying about “what if?” then you’ll never truly experience the most important thing in life: “what is”.

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