General Anxiety Disorder

Throughout my life I've felt that at times I just cannot escape anxiety and in my family there is a history of OCD, depression and social anxiety so I always feared that it would be such a disorder that would affect me. Until approximately a year ago I thought that my fear of things was just something that everybody experienced but it wasn't until I visited my doctor, which I'd also had a fear of throughout my childhood and into adolescence, that I began to understand that the anxiety that I felt about every part of life was something that happened to others too. On my first appointment I was diagnosed with depression, which I believed to be incorrect from the offset as I was not always in the mood that sometimes occurred or what could be described as a lethargic state, however I just felt helpless. I understood that maybe at times I felt depressed but there would be lifts and I would not always feel as bad but it was certain thoughts that triggered this. After this diagnosis I was referred for counselling and to a psychiatrist where I actually got the diagnosis for General Anxiety Disorder.
   It was then that I began to seek some sort of understanding as to what the disorder is, what it's caused by, the symptoms and so on. I was offered medication but, ironically, I felt unable to take them due to the large array of side effects that could occur and I thought that it was something that I could just deal with, rather stupidly, as 'anxiety' is common but it wasn't until later that I realised that the extent to which such anxiety was actually affecting my everyday life. When speaking to friends they attempted to understand but this disorder was something that they had little experience with too and they, like me, said that they would have thought, due to noticing behaviours that I would display, such as my desire to keep a particular routine , for example, leaving sixth form the same way every day, as more associated with other disorders,perhaps including OCD. Moreover, as at times I would be unable to speak to people, which I have always said is not the social anxiety that is prevalent in my family but actually occurs only on certain days where, it seems, that a larger number of 'events' that may trigger anxiety have occurred, however insignificant or minute these can appear to other people. For example, the psychiatrist that I go to asked me what had led to the most recent 'depressed' state that I get in, which also consists of a number of anxiety symptoms,such as heart beat racing, shaking, an inability to concentrate on anything and just a general terrible feeling, which I still feel unable to explain to anyone due to the difficulty experienced in describing it, and it was an argument with my sister in which I was accused of breaking a lamp. Yes, I too recognise that as ridiculous and it was then that I realised that there must be a number of things that have built up to cause it. 
    Due to my inability to concentrate, which occurs as a result of heightened anxiety, I felt that I'd let things go far enough and it was fundamental that I sought the appropriate help, as, whilst I was referred to several counsellors, I still felt unable to attend any of these appointments due to my general fear of anything regarding mental health, so returned to the psychiatrist the following month where he asked me if I'd like to try taking medication and at this point I felt I was ready to and had to because if I didn't accept any help things would never get better, although at times life was seemingly better, and after a few days researching side effects, which I felt maybe I should never have done because of the fear that it caused, I felt I was ready to begin taking the medication (cipralex, for anyone interested) and I feel that this had has a particular significant positive impact on my ability to cope with parts of everyday life and has given me the strength to seek more help and helped me get through my A-Levels. 
   Whilst the medication has had a positive impact, perhaps supporting the idea that mental health, although the view is disapproved of by many, is actually a result of some sort of a chemical imbalance in the brain or genetics, I feel that I have a long way to go still. I am currently increasing the dose of medication I am on but I also aim to seek other types of help toobecause I am aware that the medication does not give some sort of cure,. Sadly, it's not as simple as that.  
   If you're wondering why this is ridiculously long it's because I am forever going on about raising awareness of mental health issues and reducing the stigma surrounding disorders like GAD, which I feel is particularly underpublicised and when I received the diagnosis I could find few personal experiences of the disorder and that was what I sought at the time rather desperately so had always thought when I felt ready, as insignificant as my experience may appear to others, I would give it in the hope that it might actually help somebody else understand the disorder. 
   Feel free to comment on this or ask any relevant questions :) 
JH18 JH18
18-21, F
1 Response Jul 11, 2010

Thanks for sharing this, JH18.<br />
This is the first time a hear about GAD, and from the symptoms you described, I'm afraid I might have that, too. <br />
I am almost always depressed; and have thoughts of inadequacy, inability, insignificance...etc. which make me very anxious about the future and about handling new situations. <br />
That anxiety has damaged my health, my nerves and my skin!<br />
<br />
It's very courageous of you that you sought professional help and medication. I hope it would have a positive impact that 'lasts'. In my case, I'm reluctant to seek help because I don't think it will work for me. I agree with the idea that mental health is affected mostly by chemical or genetic factors. So, I guess I'll have to be medicated for the rest of my life. That's not something I'd want.