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Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: The Most Basic of all Anxiety Disorders
We all know that genetics and stress and biology are causes of generalized anxiety disorder, and all forms of anxiety disorder. However, we should be more interested in looking at the causes we can work on: our own thoughts, perceptions, interpretations and behavior.
Lets look at what we do that makes anxiety worse
It may be that the things we are doing to make our anxiety worse are also the most important causes of generalized anxiety disorder. THIS IS GOOD NEWS. It means that you can work on your anxiety and feeling better.
Barlow ( 2002)describes anxious apprehension, or " the future- oriented mood state in which an individual becomes ready for or prepares to cope with negative events."
When I first read this I thought, clearly I have generalized anxiety disorder. In my family, this was the rule! Of course you prepare for upcoming disaster. In every situation doesn't it help to prepare for the worst case scenario? Isn't this what successful, thoughtful goal-oriented people do? How can preparing for the worst be a bad thing? Doesn't that leave you prepared?
Is this true for you? Do you always worry about the future? Are you always preparing for the worst? Do you spend a lot of time focused on how uncertain it is?
Worrying creates a sense of fear and dread which perpetuates anxiety
Well, it turns out, it isn't such a great thing. Anxious people take this to the extreme. A persistent focus on possible negative future outcome causes your mind to shift always to the negative and threatening, your body to be stressed physiologically, and your problem-solving and coping skills behavior to be unproductive. This future focus also magnifies our sense of uncertainty, which many have difficulty dealing with. Unfortunately everything is uncertain, isn't it?
"I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time. " ~Charlie Brown (Charles Schulz)
Worrying about and dreading the future does nothing to reduce the uncertainty of it
One of the causes of generalized anxiety disorder is the environment you grow up in. Children learn how to view the world and solve problems from watching their parents.
It can't be good for children to always assume the worse case scenario, can it? To learn that if you don't worry constantly over possible disastrous future consequences that something terrible will befall you?
Children raised in this emotional environment may learn fear and dread for the future, mistrust of the universe, and may lack a sense of safety.
This kind of mindset becomes the greatest of all the causes of generalized anxiety disorder. Make no mistake, this is a debilitating illness, which reduces the quality of your life.
If you are reading this, it is likely that you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety. Think about how family patterns may have contributed to the way you view the world.
Focus on worrying about and controlling the future causes you to be unable to experience your present
The process of planning for the future, and anticipating consequences is not in and of itself a bad thing. For worriers, however, it becomes the core issue that perpetuates their anxiety.
Worrying is not an effective way to solve problems. Problem solving is an effective way to solve problems. Problem solving consists of weighing the pros and cons, evaluating them and making a decision.
Worrying, a mechanism which perpetuates anxiety, prevents you from solving problems. In fact, many researchers and treatment providers now believe worrying is a way of avoiding problems.
Is this one of the causes of generalized anxiety disorder for you? Think about what you are worrying about and see if you aren't avoiding solving a problem.
How does this anxiety happen? Why does it happen? Research shows that that people who have GAD and other anxiety disorders are more likely than others to be prone to intense, quick and overwhelming emotional reactions( Eiffert and Forsyth 2005). One of the causes of generalized anxiety disorder could be described as a person's tendency to be overwhelmed by their emotions. Therefore, they adapt the act of worrying to cope with this. Research has shown that they are able to avoid the temporary intense physiological and imagined distress associated with anxiety, but in the long term, worry makes anxiety worse because it prevents people from effective problem solving and it serves as an avoidance for people who are anxious.
Learn about generalized anxiety
Learn about panic:
Learn about OCD:
Learn about Social anxiety:
Learn about Depression:
Depression and Alcohol
Barlow, D.H.(2002) Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic(2cd ed.): New York: Guilford Press
EIfert,G. and Forsyth J.(2005)Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders.Oakland, CA:New Habringer Publications, Inc.