This article will thematize GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and the specific impact on one individual, the name and personal information will not be mentioned to respect the privacy of the person.

It is important to keep in mind that this article deals with the symptoms and impact of GAD on one specific individual, the aim is not to find generalizable truths regarding the disorder but to explore how an individual copes and lives with the diagnosis and symptoms that come with it. The DSM-5 defines the disorder as an inability to control worry, the excessive anxiety and distress have to occur for at least 6 months.(APA, 2013) Other specific symptoms have to occur before being able to diagnose the disorder, all of them are listed in the DSM-5.

In order to have a clear overview of a life with GAD, questions were prepared to cover different aspects of the disorder and the impact on the individual: 

How long have you been living with GAD ?

I remember thinking something’s not right during my early teenage years, the worry would be so intense and unbearable that it would interfere with daily activities and life in general. Most of the time I was not taken seriously and even needled for worrying too much which resulted in even more worry as it made me feel strange, asking myself why I was the only one worrying so much. I was not diagnosed until early adulthood when I finally decided to seek help.

Could you elaborate, explain what those worries look like ?

It’s difficult to be specific or even name worries off the top of my head, when I talk to my therapist we often have to dig deep to find the root of my worries, which is often very helpful. Worrying doesn’t really apply to specific problems, I would be happy if it was like that but I’d say that this would be defined as “dealing with a problem“ which is definitely not what I’m doing when I’m worrying. Worrying is like a fog, it’s difficult to see through it but you don’t exactly know what’s blurring your vision, ultimately I might end up worrying about the worry itself, thinking about the physical symptoms that I might display if keep being distressed. Don’t get me wrong, I do get worked up about specific things but this is not what impairs me the most, it’s the constant feeling of being overwhelmed that really takes a toll on your mental health, always expecting the worst, not being able to identify what is causing the panic inside.

How do you cope with the anxiety and worries since you were diagnosed ?

The diagnosis itself was a shock at first but has since become a blessing as I was able to benefit from the resources that I previously had no access to. Therapy has probably helped me the most, I’m also taking medication which has most definitely helped me too especially regarding my sleep. I had other symptoms that are not included in GAD which are being treated simultaneously so it can be a bit difficult to pinpoint what exactly was caused by which disorder while trying to analyze what is helping specifically, but I think it’s safe to say that the combination of medication and therapy has helped (or even saved) me from a very dark place. I would say that I build a toolbox by now and I have some tools that I can use when I get overwhelmed it’s still difficult sometimes but I’m proud when I look back, there is such a big difference compared to a few years ago.

What could’ve helped, is there something that would’ve pushed you to acknowledge that you might need help early on ?

This is a difficult question, I don’t know exactly what would’ve helped, but I do know what didn’t. Not being taken seriously when I doubted everything around me, when I was overwhelmed and anxious, it would’ve been nice to know that other people have the same problem. I felt alone which made me worry even more, it would’ve been nice to have someone that understood the degree of worry and anxiety that I was feeling inside. It has helped me to judge actions differently, always keeping in mind that there might be severe underlying factors pushing a person to act the way they do.

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