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How Do I Know if It Is Generalized Anxiety?

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From a teen in the U.S.: So here is my situation: I have anxiety for quite a few situations. It is not ONLY social situations or for a specific phobia. I have the typical anxiety symptoms (though mild in comparison to those who throw up, have panic attacks, etc) when I am
a) thinking about an impending social event/school event/ceremony where I will have to interact with someone other than my two best friends and my family/being there without them/arriving without them and being uncertain about little things such as where to sit
b) on my way to those events
c) during these events (unless I was super overreacting and I actually have fun)
d) when I think about storms
e) at doctors offices, esp before shots or blood pressure tests. I had my first and only panic attack when I was told I would be getting a shot I had not mentally prepared for
f) when I feel like a nuisance for employees at restaurants (my family is being slow, etc)
g) when I have to speak in front of people, any context
h) when I think about impending overwhelming things and what is due, like homework and fitting in work and applying for colleges (that one is pretty normal I think)
i) when my dad is late picking me up from an event or something, and it has gotten worse since I turned 16 because everyone around me leaves on their own terms. I sometimes just worry about being pitied or thought about in any sense, as I stick out as waiting, and sometimes I worry that my dad has gotten into an accident or something and I get really anxious
j) driving. everything about it. I cant.
k) the thought of making new friends/dating

there are honestly more. Anyway I can basically pinpoint where all my anxiety comes from. (also I am pretty sure a lot of it has to do with my insecurity) So is that still considered generalized? I also can push through these. I can’t and don’t let it paralyze me when I know it will be harmful to my future, like when I needed a job or I needed to be in leadership of a club so I could get into a college. But it still sucks. I just don’t know where I stand. Thank you if you can help.

How Do I Know if It Is Generalized Anxiety?

Answered by on -

A.

Generalized anxiety means exactly that: The anxiety is generally there much of the time about many, many things. However, I can’t tell whether you have the normal anxieties of every person who is emerging into adulthood or whether you have a “disorder.” It’s important to make the distinction. What you need to do to help yourself depends on accurately understanding the problem.

Many many teens have the anxieties and concerns you listed. Many many teens are easily embarrassed (especially by family members), are uneasy socially and very concerned about how to fit in. If your worries are within the range of normal, the “treatment” is to watch and learn from others, to take your time when you are nervous, and to remember that this is all the sometimes uncomfortable part of growing up.

A disorder is more pervasive. People with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) worry excessively a good deal of the time. It interferes with their functioning in their schoolwork, jobs, and relationships. They are often irritable and depressed and sometimes are even suicidal. There are often physical symptoms as well, such as nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, sweating, maybe sleep disturbance.

If that is the case with you, you should see a professional mental health counselor for an evaluation. If diagnosed with GAD, treatment will include talk therapy to teach you skills for managing your anxiety and for becoming more self-confident. Sometimes a medication is also recommended.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Know if It Is Generalized Anxiety?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Do I Know if It Is Generalized Anxiety?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/12/07/how-do-i-know-if-it-is-generalized-anxiety/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.