It is not unusual for people to feel anxious once in a while, but when it becomes a long term problem it may be generalized anxiety disorder (commonly abbreviated as GAD). Some of the more common symptoms of GAD include excessive worry, avoidance behaviors, and an ever-present sense of tension. Many people can deal with anxiety on their own, but if it starts affecting other areas of your life in a negative way, then you should see your doctor or psychologist to get a professional diagnosis.
One of the hallmarks of GAD is a process known as catastrophizing. Here is an example of how it works. Let's somebody sees a weather forecast predicting rain. A person with generalized anxiety disorder will think about the rain, and then the possibility of a severe thunderstorm, but it doesn't stop there. They may then think about how thunderstorms can spawn tornadoes, and how a tornado could hit their home, potentially burying them in a pile of rubble. This thought process may continue until the sufferer imagines themselves being dead. It all happens within a matter of seconds, and all from seeing a simple weather forecast calling for rain.
A technique that many people have used to stop this catastrophizing and get their anxiety under control is to interrupt the thought process. First you need to be aware that you are having an anxiety-related thought. The next step is to acknowledge the thought, as opposed to trying to ignore it. Then you use whatever interruption method you like to stop the process.
If you catastrophize, then that's a sign that you may have generalized anxiety disorder. While this is a more clear-cut symptom, there are other symptoms which may be confused for other problems. Problems sleeping, headaches, aching muscles, trembling, moodiness, nausea, frequent urination, feeling hot, shortness of breath, feeling lightheaded, sweating, and heart palpitations are a few examples. Now, those could all be signs of other major health problems and should be taken seriously. You must always talk to your doctor about any health concerns you may have, including the symptoms we have just mentioned.
When talking to your doctor, it's important to be honest about all of your symptoms, and to tell them about your thoughts and feelings in as accurate of a way as possible. If you have generalized anxiety disorder, then you may start to worry that the doctor will ridicule you; if this happens, use the interruption technique mentioned earlier. Your doctor is a professional and has heard it all before.
Being open and honest is vital to getting the best treatment for your GAD. Depending on your particular case, the doctor may recommend therapy or prescribe medication. Each of these works well, and may even be used in combination to cover all of the bases. While the treatments for generalized anxiety disorder are effective, they will only work if you seek treatment and then follow through on it.