by Douglas L. Anderson, PsyD
Pete couldn’t sleep. Instead he would lay in bed and worry about seemingly everything. Sometimes his worry related more to the price of hogs and the lack of rain. At other times he worried about his children and how they would find their way in this world. In all cases the worry felt overwhelming and debilitating. It was a constant struggle to overcome the underlying sense of dread that accompanied him all the time. Pete couldn’t concentrate well, and this made decisions more difficult. It also caused difficulty in his relationships because he was working so hard to just manage his internal feelings of distress that he couldn’t attend to others the way he or they wanted.
Of course some anxiety or worry is normal. Life has plenty of difficult moments in it for all of us, and we shouldn’t be surprised by the experience of anxiety from time to time. On top of all the other “normal” things we have to worry about, we also have been dumped on by a pandemic, by racial strife, and by political upheaval in our country. If you aren’t experiencing any anxiety at all you might want to check your pulse!
But Pete’s level of worry was severe and diagnosable. Worry that is severe and ongoing, and that interferes with daily activities is what we call Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD. Look at the information below. If over the past six months you have been feeling a sense of dread or apprehension at a level that has impacted your ability to function well, and if you have three or more of the symptoms listed below, then you may be struggling with GAD.
You feel restless, keyed up, or on edge much of the time.
You are easily fatigued.
Your mind often goes blank or you have difficulty concentrating.
You are frequently irritable.
You experience quite a bit of muscle tension.
Your sleep is disturbed (restless, disturbed sleep, or difficulty falling asleep).
The good news is that we have effective ways of treating this disorder. People experiencing GAD at the mild to moderate level of severity often do well with a combination of psychotherapy and the development of good self care activities. People experiencing more severe GAD usually will need a medication regimen along with psychotherapy and self care activities.
You do not have to live with worry and tension that goes on all the time. If you want or need to talk with someone who can help you get your worry and anxiety under control, consider a therapist at River Counseling Services and Sioux Falls Psychological Services where we meet you where you are, offering hope. You may schedule an appointment with the Platte office at 605-337-3444, or meet with one of our Sioux Falls Psychological Services therapists from your own computer or smartphone. To schedule an appointment please call 605-334-2696.