“I just dread being alone at night. I don’t know why, but I do……”

“My thoughts won’t shut off. They’re constantly running, making me worry, worry, worry……”

“Will I ever be my old self again?”

“I can’t remember ever feeling relaxed and calm….What would that be like?”

“I’m always on edge…..”

“I hate having to go to work anymore. I haven’t always been this way…..”

Generalized anxiety disorder is a relatively common anxiety problem, affecting 3-4% of the population, that turns daily life into a state of worry, anxiety, and fear. Excessive thinking and dwelling on the “what ifs” characterizes this anxiety disorder. As a result, the person feels there’s no way out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry, and then becomes depressed about life and the state of anxiety they find themselves in.

Generalized anxiety usually does not cause people to avoid situations, and there isn’t an element of a “panic attack” involved in the prognosis, either. It’s the thinking, thinking, thinking, dwelling, dwelling, ruminating, ruminating, and inability to shut the mind off that so incapacitates the person. At other times, thoughts seem almost non-existent because the anxious feelings are so dominant. Feelings of worry, dread, lack of energy, and a loss of interest in life are common. Many times there is no “trigger” or “cause” for these feelings and the person realizes these feelings are irrational. Nevertheless, the feelings are very real. At this point, there is no “energy” or “zest” in life and no desire to want to do much.

This emotional fear and worry can be quite strong. If a loved one is ten minutes late, the person with generalized anxiety fears the very worst — something’s dreadfully wrong (after all, they’re ten minutes late!), there’s been an accident, the paramedics are taking the person to the hospital and his injuries are just too critical to resuscitate him…..”Oh, my God!…..WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?” Feelings of fear and anxiety rush in from these thoughts, and the vicious cycle of anxiety and depression runs wild.

Some people with generalized anxiety have fluctuations in mood from hour to hour, whereas others have “good days” and “bad days”. Others do better in the morning, and others find it easier at the end of the day. These anxiety feelings and moods feed on themselves, leading the person to continue in the pattern of worry and anxiety — unless something powerful breaks it up.

Physical manifestations of generalized anxiety may include headaches, trembling, twitching, irritability, frustration, and inability to concentrate. Sleep disturbances may also occur. Elements of social phobia and/or panic may sometimes be present, such as high levels of self-consciousness in some situations, and fear of not being able to escape from enclosed spaces.

It is also common, but not universal, for people with generalized anxiety to experience other problems, such as a quickness to startle from it, a lack of ability to fully relax, and the propensity to be in a state of constant motion. It is difficult for some people with generalized anxiety to settle down enough to have a quiet, reflective time where they can calm down, relax, and feel some peace and tranquility. Strategies to peacefully calm down and relax are one part in overcoming this problem.

Normal life stresses aggravate generalized anxiety. The person who typically performs well at work and receives a sense of accomplishment from it, all of a sudden finds that work has become drudgery. If work is perceived as a negative environment, and the person no longer feels fulfilled, then considerable worry takes place over these situations. As a result, the anticipatory anxiety about going to work can become quite strong.

Generalized anxiety has been shown to respond best to cognitive-behavioral therapy, an active therapy that involves more than just talking to a therapist. In CBT, the person gradually learns to see situations and problems in a different perspective and learns the methods and techniques to use to alleviate and reduce anxiety. Sometimes medication is a helpful adjunct to therapy, but for many people it is not necessary. Research indicates that generalized anxiety is fully treatable and can be successfully overcome over the course of about three to four months if the person is motivated and works toward recovery.

Generalized anxiety must be chipped away from all sides and that is what CBT is designed to do. No one has to live with generalized anxiety disorder……treatment for GAD has been shown to be both effective and successful.

Please seek a therapist who understands anxiety and the anxiety disorders. Remember, that just because a person has a degree behind their name, does not mean they understand and can treat an anxiety disorder. Feel free to ask questions of any professional and make sure your therapist understands and knows how to treat generalized anxiety. It is usually a good idea to see a specialist in this area (they don’t charge more), but they do have a practice that is geared toward the anxiety disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by 6 months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience. People with this disorder usually expect the worst; they worry excessively about money, health, family, or work, even when there are no signs of trouble. They are unable to relax and often suffer from insomnia. Many people with GAD also have physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, or hot flashes.

Fortunately, through research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), effective treatments have been developed to help people with GAD.

How Common is GAD?

About 2.8% of the U.S. population (4 million Americans) have GAD during a year’s time.

GAD most often strikes people in childhood or adolescence, but can begin in adulthood, too. It affects women more often than men.

What Causes GAD?

Some research suggests that GAD may run in families and it may also grow worse during stress. GAD usually begins at an earlier age and symptoms may manifest themselves more slowly than in most other anxiety disorders.

What Treatments Are Available for GAD?

Treatments for GAD include medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Can People with GAD Also Have Other Physical and Emotional Illnesses?

Research shows that GAD often coexist with depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders. Other conditions associated with stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome, often accompany GAD. Patients with physical symptoms such as insomnia or headaches should also tell their doctors about their feelings of worry and tension. This will help the patient’s health care provider to recognize that the person is suffering, from GAD.

Anxiety & Sleep

Sleep – is a basic human need at any age, as essential for good health as a proper diet and regular exercise. A good night’s sleep refuels the body’s energy, gives our active brains a rest, and puts us mentally in a better mood.

One of the greatest frustrations we all face at some point is not being able to fall asleep. We toss and turn, worry about the next day’s activities.

Anxiety & Sleep

National Sleep Foundation

Sleep for Kids

Drowsy Driving

Clock and count how many minutes we have left before morning. For many, though, insomnia is much more than a one-night annoyance. Insomnia is the clinical term for those who have trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or waking too early in the morning. Caused by a multitude of physical and emotional problems, insomnia can be diagnosed as short-term or long-term, depending on when the patient feels that the loss of sleep is a problem.

For individuals with an anxiety disorder, insomnia closes the loop on a vicious cycle of symptoms that can exacerbate these disorders. Many of the culprits that prey on anxiety sufferers – excessive stress, persistent worry, obsessive thoughts, gastrointestinal problems, and nightmares – also rob them of their precious sleep. In addition, certain antidepressants often prescribed for the treatment of an anxiety disorder can cause sleep difficulties.

Conversely, research has shown that chronic sleep problems are associated with an increased risk of anxiety, depression and reduced quality of life. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome also interfere with good sleeping habits, thereby contributing to the possibility of mental impairment. The vicious cycle continues.

Whether sleeplessness creates the anxiety, or the disorder causes the insomnia, the risks of inadequate sleep go way beyond just being tired. Skipping the necessary hours of sleep can result in many negative consequences including, poor work or school performance, increased risk of injury, and poor health, as well as, impaired judgment and bad moods. In children, sleep disorders are linked to learning problems, slow growth, bedwetting and high blood pressure.

Dos & Don’ts for Sleeping Soundly

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night for most adults and even more for children and adolescents. Yet, nearly 25% of adults in America (47 million people) don’t even get the minimum amount of sleep they need to be fully alert the next day. To manage anxiety symptoms, and to ensure good health, make sleep a priority for you and your family. Here are some tips from the NSF to enjoying better sleep:


Make time for sleep. Block out seven to nine hours for a full night of uninterrupted sleep.

Establish a regular bedtime routine for children that includes 15 to 30 minutes of calm, soothing activities.

Set the stage for a good night’s sleep. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Get into bed only when you are sleepy.

If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something you find relaxing.

Talk to your doctor if you have sleep problems. A doctor can discuss with you about the number of prescribed and herbal sleep remedies available. Sweet dreams!


Engage in stimulating activities right before going to sleep.

Watch TV or use the computer before going to bed.

Eat or drink before bedtime.

Exercise within three hours before you want to fall asleep. The ideal time to work out is early afternoon, because about 5 to 6 hours later your body temperature will drop and this will help you sleep better.

Consume large amounts of caffeine, like soda and chocolate.

Use nicotine products. Nicotine is a stimulant.

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