Naturalistic Neurodiversity

Exploring our differences through science.

The Gauntlet of Generalized Anxiety

with 4 comments

I have compassion for those who have a personal relationship with someone diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. In the six years since my diagnosis, I have had the singular pleasure of meeting those who understand and know how to help keep the doom to a dull roar, as well as those who have no concept of what might trigger within me a complete withdrawal from reality. For those who have never known someone with GAD, or might be struggling with coping methods, I will offer a few pointers.

The difficult thing about my GAD is that often, many things can be labeled a trigger. In my case, health issues for me or my partner, financial or job related woes tend to be at the top of the list. However, the very worst one for me is fear of confrontation or of being an imposition on another individual. The very idea of either of those situations makes my stomach knot, my palms get clammy and my mind start leaping to the worst possible outcome. To help with this, the loved one of the GAD individual can establish the most common triggers, and help the individual either avoid the trigger, or minimize the impact.

When it comes to minimization, slowly urging the GAD individual toward the “big picture” is very useful. Use logic in a non-demeaning way; point out gently that the anxiety inducing situation will likely not have a monumental impact, and even if it does, you will be there to help deal with any fall out. One very useful method I employ is the “five hour” mantra. Ask the panicked person if the trigger they are worried about will matter in five hours. If so, how about five days? Eventually, you will get to a point that helps the person expand the bubble of focus to the position that they may see beyond the anxiety, thus reducing the panic level.

Remember, you are there to be helpful, not to be their therapist. Even if you think they should just buck up and get over their worried state, do not do things to push their boundaries. Save the psychology for the professionals, because every individual is different, and there’s always something beneath the surface you may not understand. Growing angry, impatient, demanding or unresponsive to a GAD individual is likely to do more damage and will definitely not give you the results you want – a calm, reasonable person. Suggestions to seek therapy to those who have not may not be a bad idea, as long as it isn’t in a confrontational way.

Overall, try to remember that even if you think the trigger is stupid or illogical, in the mind of someone with Generalized Anxiety; it is incredibly real, and our reactions valid. Every single person with GAD is different – proceed with love and as much understanding as you can muster.


Written by deletedsoul

August 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Posted in GAD

4 Responses

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  1. […] The Gauntlet of Generalized Anxiety ( […]

  2. Excellent post! My mom has GAD, and I never had anyone explain it to me as a child. This is very useful information.

    The Nerd

    August 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm

  3. Just about everything here is true for me. I, however, acknowledge when my reactions are irrational and invalid, and I use that information to assist me in getting past an anxiety attack. I use the “What’s more likely?” method to cope with, and respond to, some of my mental illnesses, including GAD. (That method is even more useful for delusions and hallucinations.) To be honest, taking a rational, self-aware approach really seems to make non-mentally-ill people understand, assist and respect me more, despite my apparent weaknesses. What I experience is very real to me, sure, but if I continuously let myself get swept up in it, thinking it’s a perfectly valid response, no one wants to help me. And at that point, I’m so far gone that I don’t even want to help myself.


    August 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm

  4. Hmm, I have not thought much about GAD lately but exploring “triggers” seems like a good idea. And pretty much all that you described is what I and my loved one do when I get anxious.

    On the note of rationalization – what do you do when you’ve already rationalized through it, and you still have anxiety? That’s my major issue, I’m quite logical in my mind, but my nerves don’t seem to listen.


    August 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm

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