Mental Health Awareness: General Anxiety Disorder
Our focus for 2023 is to raise mental health awareness and to keep a stream of constant communication flowing.
Raising mental health awareness is an important social issue that needs to be addressed. Conversations encourage people to talk about mental health issues and to know it's completely normal to seek help - if needed. Mental health awareness also helps to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health services. When we talk about mental health, we create an environment where people feel safe and supported to talk about their mental health, allowing easier access to services and a better understanding of the needs of individuals experiencing mental health issues.
Anxiety is not just in your head
In this blog, we are exploring General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The diagnosis description is a severe, ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities. GAD can occur at any age and has similar symptoms to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other types of anxiety. If you think you might have GAD, it’s a good idea to visit your physician to get a medical diagnosis and discuss the best treatment for your safety and efficacy.
Anxiety is not just in your head - the effects are felt all over your body and not just in your mind. The way the body responds to stress, is how your body alerts you to threats and helps prepare to deal with them. This is called the fight-or-flight response. So an anxiety episode may start in your head with symptoms including constant worry, restlessness, and trouble with concentration, but can quickly affect you physically. Some common physical effects of anxiety are listed and explained below. For additional symptoms of anxiety, and helpful resources, click here.
Physical symptoms of anxiety
Headache - When you’re stressed, the muscles in your head, neck, and shoulders tighten up. This can lead to tension headaches and migraines. Relaxation techniques may help lower your stress as well as the number of these headaches. More info
Stomach pain, nausea, or digestive trouble - ”Butterflies” are one thing, but if you’re really stressed, you may have nausea and your tummy might hurt. This is natural, because your body may slow or stop digestion during the fight-or-flight response to help you focus. More info
Rapid breathing or shortness of breath - When you’re stressed, you may breathe harder and faster, which can be a problem if you have a condition like asthma or a lung disease, like emphysema, which makes it difficult to get enough oxygen into your lungs. More info
Pounding heart or increased heart rate - The hormones that get into your system when you’re stressed can be bad for your heart if they stay at high levels. They can raise your blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. They also may cause inflammation of the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart muscle, and that also can lead to a heart attack. More info
Heartburn or acid reflex - People who are under a lot of stress might eat more, or eat more unhealthy food. They also may drink more alcohol or smoke more often. All this can lead to heartburn and acid reflux (when stomach acid comes up into your food pipe). If it’s not treated, it can cause ulcers (open sores) and scar tissue. More info
If you or a loved one often feel worried, nervous, or afraid about normal daily events. Consider contacting a health professional to let them know of your symptoms. They will be able to address your concerns and help put in place a plan of treatment to help improve your mental health.