Anxiety is a normal human response to uncertainty. It’s simply a part of the human condition to have occasional “fight-or-flight” moments that we find difficult to control or manage.
For people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder however, nearly every aspect of life invokes a thought of “what if,” leading to a state of chronic worry often accompanied by sensations of doom and gloom. Literally, these are folks who: (1) worry all of the time, (2) worry about what they worry about and (3) worry when they’re not worrying. This makes GAD a chronic condition, and it is often linked to numerous physical complaints – with headaches, gastrointestinal distress and muscle tension heading the list.
It is important to understand that there are positive intentions associated with why people worry. I’ve had clients tell me that worrying about something will mean that the worst won’t happen, and that this is their way of doing justice to a situation fraught with possible negative outcomes.
Psychotherapy targeted toward challenging the belief systems that fuel worry is the core of competent care. Faulty premises and assumptions should be confronted; and the overarching goal should be to help those with GAD to view their distress more objectively. Medications such as benzodiazepines and serotonin antidepressants may temporarily ameliorate worry but won’t do anything to change core illogical beliefs. As such, they don’t add value to a treatment plan.
Appreciating the difference between concern and worry is important. Having concern for something is rational and potentially solution-focused; worry on the other hand, is irrational, circular and problem-focused.