It's not normal to worry about something new every single day. If it interferes with your daily life, it's time to mention it to your doctor. You may think it is natural to worry about loved ones or to catch a plane on time. Nevertheless, when worrying becomes obsessive, and it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
“Revealing signs include needing more assurance than usual and restricting activities because of fears or concerns.”
"Ruminating, or going over and"over the same worry or decision, is a warning sign," says Dr Ann Epstein, a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Generalised anxiety disorder
Recognise the symptoms
So how do you know what is normal? "It is not normal if you need more than the usual reassurance for something, or if you restrict your activities because of anxiety,".
Watch out for these symptoms:
persistent, excessive worry about various things for at least six months
- difficulty sleeping, or
- trouble concentrating
- muscle tension
- feeling tense or on edge.
Unfortunately, older adults may go undiagnosed because there seem to be "good" reasons for their concerns. However, treatment is effective and widely available. It may include prescription medications.
Antidepressants known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, such as venlafaxine (Effexor) or duloxetine (Cymbalta), can help treat anxiety as well as depression and are often prescribed.
Also used are benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), as well as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as citalopram (Celexa) and fluoxetine (Prozac).
Medications are not always necessary.
An effective pill-free form of treatment for generalised anxiety is called cognitive behavioural therapy. It helps you identify automatic negative thoughts, understand why they are not rational, and come up with ways to eliminate destructive thoughts and reinforce positive ones—such as by using distraction or soothing images.