How Chronic Anxiety Cripples Lives

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Anxiety can give people an added push, an extra bit of motivation, to accomplish difficult or undesirable tasks. How many of us would continue to study for exams, if it weren’t for our exaggerated fear of failure? If we didn’t fear failure, many of us would fail to achieve what we wanted. On a grander scale, our lifelong fear of death–which the existentialists have termed angst, the German word for “fear”–gives us the motivation to undertake grand artistic projects, or to find mates and raise children.

However, some people are beset by severe, crippling chronic anxiety that does more than just give their mortal life its spice. This kind of anxiety takes over their lives.  Psychologists have given a name to this form of kind of pathological anxiety: generalised anxiety disorder.

People who suffer from generalised anxiety disorder live their lives in the service of their fears. They can’t stop worrying about whatever is at hand: their children’s safety, whether or not their upcoming dinner party will succeed. the state of the world’s economy, whether or not the car they just bought is safe to drive, whether the cat will make a mess by throwing its litter around all over the bathroom (and whether or not the resultant bits of stray cat litter will result in a disgusting, wet mess when they come into contact with water spilled from the shower onto the bathroom floor), and whether or not there might be a roach infestation in their apartment. People with chronic anxiety disorder will always find a subject to worry about.

It is difficult for mental health professionals to talk about generalised anxiety disorder as a mental illness. The problem is that everyone experiences symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Everyone worries about their children, the state of the world’s economy, and whether or not their flat has roaches.

The difference between generalised anxiety disorder and ordinary anxiety is just a matter of degree. People with generalised anxiety disorder just can’t stop worrying. They just worry and worry and worry, and can’t stop. Worst of all, they worry about the fact that they’re worrying. They torture themselves, to the point of showing physical signs. Ulcers, headaches, difficulty, pain, suffering–this is all a part of life for those who have chronic anxiety disorder. Most people can put their worries aside, and think about something else. This is simply not the case among sufferers of generalised anxiety disorder.

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