Anxiety is an emotional state which most people experience from time to time, usually because of a particular situation but for those who struggle with Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), anxiety is always around, manifesting itself as a constant undercurrent of worry, fear, and dread. GAD is a mental health disorder, which severely, negatively impacts each day. Symptoms interfere with everyday activities, work-life and relationships.
Whilst individual experiences of GAD are unique, this blog takes you through a typical day of someone suffering with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, to shed some light on the physical emotional and mental toll which it can take.
6:00am – The alarm rings
For someone suffering with GAD, a flood of worry pours into their mind even before they open their eyes, and a sense of dread is already present. Hypothetical thoughts such as ‘What if I didn’t lock the back door last night?’ ‘What if the traffic is bad and I’m late for work?’ ‘What if I make a mistake today?’ play out in their mind. Basic morning tasks can become overwhelming.
7:00am - Breakfast time
This should be a time to concentrate on what is widely considered to be the most important meal of the day. The growing knot of anxiety in the pit of the stomach causes a loss of appetite, as the worries of the day ahead begin to grow and multiply. They convince themselves it’s going to be an awful day.
10:00 – 12:00pm - The morning at work
The morning brings a rollercoaster of emotions, they are anxious about making a mistake, worried about talking to a colleague, in case they say something stupid. Unable to concentrate on even the simplest of tasks. They are plagued by self-doubt and a fear of failure, everything needs to be double, and triple checked. It’s like walking on a tight rope.
1:00pm - Lunchtime
Lunchtime arrives and with it worries about spending this time with colleagues. Thoughts such as ‘What if they don’t really like me and are just pretending to?’ ‘Will they judge my food choices?’ ‘Perhaps it would be easier to stay at my desk and focus on some emails’.
2:00pm – 5:00pm - The afternoon
As the afternoon continues their anxiety triggers physical symptoms, such as nausea, a headache or stomach discomfort. The completion of tasks doesn’t bring a sense of satisfaction but rather more concerns around what could have been done better. Instead of looking forward to going home for the evening, they have begun to have lengthy debates in their mind about what to have for dinner. Making choices about even the simplest of things is a mammoth task.
5:00 – 6:00 – The commute home
Worst case scenarios again play on their mind. ‘What if there is an accident?’ Every beep of a horn, sudden brake. Even just a glance from a fellow commuter sends their anxiety rocketing in case they must make small talk.
6:00 – 10:00pm – The evening
Arriving home after a long day should be an opportunity to unwind and de-stress. Making choices about what to cook for dinner is however overwhelming and there are irrational but persistent health worries and thoughts such as ‘will I get food poisoning?’ A fear that time is not being spent wisely or they are not being productive induces more anxiety and prevents any sort of relaxation. The mind is anywhere but in the present, in a state of hyper-awareness and overthinking.
A quick check on social media brings feelings of inadequacy, as comparisons are made to others.
10:00pm - Bedtime
Despite both physical and mental exhaustion, falling asleep is difficult, as the mind begins to race. The day’s events are analysed and ruminated; each conversation being dissected for anything which could have been perceived negatively. The events for the next day are already being predicted from a catastrophic viewpoint and conversations they may never have are being rehearsed over and over. There won’t be much restorative sleep tonight before the whole cycle of worry, fear and dread continues.
Treatment options for GAD include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and medication.
Psychotherapy, incorporating CBT and hypnotherapy is also an option which can be particularly effective for several reasons:
· Whilst CBT addresses the cognitive issues around GAD, hypnotherapy aims to alter the emotional responses, which are deeply ingrained within the subconscious part of the mind.
· CBT provides practical coping skills, whilst hypnotherapy reinforces these at a subconscious level, creating long lasting, sustainable positive thought patterns and behavioural changes.
· CBT challenges thought processes and teaches breathing techniques to reduce anxiety, whilst hypnotherapy supports the mind to automatically adopt relaxation techniques.
These combined therapies provide enhanced self-efficacy, reinforcing an individual’s belief that they will overcome the condition which is important to the outcome of treatment.
Living with GAD makes every day extremely challenging. It is exhausting, affecting everyday activities and negatively impacting self-worth. It is often incorrectly perceived as “worrying too much” but it is far more complicated than that. With the right support GAD can be brought under control, so that it no longer dictates a life of worry and fear.
Disclaimer: Please note that this blog is intended to create awareness and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice.
If you believe that you or someone you know has GAD, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment options.