Mental Health Moments: What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten

“Be better than great and less than perfect.” -- founder Jen Gotch.

The Mental Health First Aid USA manual states approximately 18 percent of the U.S. adult population experiences an anxiety disorder every year. Like many mental health disorders, onset can occur in childhood, adolescence and/or early adulthood. The median age of onset for many anxiety disorders is age 11 and can be behavioral, psychological, and physical. Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 3.1 percent of adults with an anxiety disorder.

I love the Girlboss Media podcast, “Jen Gotch is OK Sometimes” (as well as Jen Gotch is the founder and Chief Creative Director of and discusses her own mental health every Tuesday on her podcast. She delves into some of the most pressing mental health processes and gives a real-world spin on mental health. It’s real and raw. I love it and recommend it.

*This Mental Health Moments blog post is sponsored by my own Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

When I took the Mental Health West Virginia’s Mental Health First Aid course, I began to talk about my own experiences with mental health and learned how to help others. I am now officially able to administer mental health first aid, which is liberating but also intimidating at the same time.

When someone has Generalized Anxiety Disorder, he or she experiences “overwhelming, unfounded anxiety and worry (about things that may go wrong or one’s ability to cope) accompanied by multiple physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety or tension occurring more days than not for six months.” You could worry about work, family issues, relationships, finances, your health and more -- even when there are no red flags.

So, how do you know if you could have Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Physical Signs:

  • Cardiovascular: pounding heart, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, flushing

  • Respiratory: hyperventilation, shortness of breath, panic and anxiety attacks

  • Neurological: dizziness, headache, sweating, tingling, numbness

  • Gastrointestinal: choking, dry mouth, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

  • Musculoskeletal: muscles pains and aches (neck, shoulders, back), restlessness, tremors and shaking, inability to relax

Psychological Signs:

  • Unrealistic and/or excessive fears and worries about the past, present and future

  • Belief that worrying is a plausible way to help with problems (on hand and perceived)

  • Mind racing and going blank

  • Little or no concentration at work, home and in general within your life

  • An intolerance of uncertainty, indecisiveness, irritability, impatience, anger, confusion, restlessness, nervous

  • Sleep disturbance, tiredness, vivid dreams

Behavioral Signs:

  • Avoidance of situations, OCD behaviors, social situation distress, phobic behavior

  • Little or no concentration at work, home and in general within your life

  • Poor problem-solving skills

My particular brand of Generalized Anxiety Disorder comes in the form of perfectionism and unrelenting high standards. I worry that I won’t be as “good” as my previous self and that I will fail in the future in specific tasks and goals. I’ve felt nearly all of the physical signs and every psychological and behavioral signs. I’m so used to worrying about everything that it’s my “normal.” I’ve beaten myself up for it, and honestly, I’m still on the path to self-acceptance (most of us are, right?).

How You Can Combat It

If you don’t combat your Generalized Anxiety Disorder or another anxiety disorder, then things will never get better. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but if you continue in your cycle, improvements can’t be added and then made.

Jen Gotch highlights the following ways you can begin to engage in better wellness and self-care in the July 17 episode of “Jen Gotch is OK Sometimes,” titled, “How To Feel Better RIGHT NOW.” 

Assess your own personalized patterns in the following ways:


Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you eating? Too much or too little?

  • What are you bedtime habits? Sleeping too much, too little, not on a routine?

  • How much stress do you have? More or less than usual? How do you manage and alleviate it? Are your methods counterintuitive? (Example: Are you eating an entire wheel of brie cheese and a box of crackers?)

  • Schedule in fun for your own work-life balance. If you tend to put work first, then treat the fun portion of your life like you treat work. And vice versa. Schedule some fun time every week and be sure to put it on your calendar and abide by the schedule you set.

  • How are your hygiene habits? And chore habits? Are you taking care of things or are you avoiding them? (Make your bed. Fold your laundry when you dry it. Do the dishes.)

  • How are you handling finances? Are you hoarding your money or anxiety/depression spending?

  • Are you spending more time at home and use avoidance patterns?

  • Look at your perspective. Are you looking at things in a negative or positive light? If you’re framing your life in a negative way, reshape your views to be more positive. Begin to see the world through rose-colored (but also realistic) glasses. Assess your relationships, too. Are they toxic or fulfilling?


Begin to use self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Listen to a mental health podcast. Use a workbook and read books.

Talk with a therapist. Take medications, if needed. Just be sure to communicate your emotions to help you find a solution. Write down your feelings by journaling and read them. Use your own emotional rating system. I keep a color-coded pixel chart on the front page of my journal.

Engage with mental health professionals and seek the help you need. (If you’re feeling terrible right now, then combine phases one and two). Feeling better is within your reach!

Get more solutions and learn more about Generalized Anxiety Disorder from the Mental Health First Aid USA organization. Please note: These blog posts will not be clinical, although we will provide symptoms and other information. These posts are based on my experiences with anxiety and mental health in general.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit a website like Mental Health America to learn more. 

Mental Health Moments blog posts are every other Tuesday of the month. Our CEO and contributors highlight what it's like to live with a mental health disorder and continue to fight the stigma through storytelling.

Copyright © MMXVIII Hourglass Omnimedia, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Omnimedia, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV. 

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