Life is stressful: that’s no secret. And your twenties are a specifically stressful time, between school, starting your career, potential marriage, and a number of other madness-inducing events that can wreak havoc on your nerves.

But when is stress pushed beyond normal levels and effects you on deeper levels? At what point is it not just normal life stress and leaves you wanting to just lie in bed all day because just the idea of leaving the house freaks you out?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can impact your daily life by making you worry about every single thing (even things that might not, in reality, be a problem to be worried about) to panic attacks. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s characterized by severe, ongoing anxiety that interferes with day-to-day activities and has similar symptoms to panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

You may be experiencing GAD if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Constant worrying about anything (minor or major)
  • Restlessness, feeling constantly on edge
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Your mind going blank regularly
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Tight, achy muscles
  • Twitchiness
  • Sleep problems

For me, anxiety would leave me unmotivated, exhausted, and feeling overwhelmed even about things that were out of my control. I would shut down and be unable to think; I could only curl up in a ball and watch countless episodes of South Park to hopefully quell my racing mind.

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There are many ways to treat anxiety.

For me, the best way was to just talk it out. Seek out someone you trust, be it your mom, best friend, or significant other, who you can confide in and who won’t judge you or tell you to “just get over it.” If nothing else, seek out a counselor or therapist. My sophomore year of college, I had a lot going on that was contributing to my anxiety and I was able to find the best solace by meeting with a counselor every week where we talked about what was bothering me and steps I could take to calm my mind.

Talk to your doctor about your anxiety, as well. They may be able to refer you to a counselor, but they may also be able to recommend certain prescriptions you can take. They’ll also ask you about your family history with anxiety or depression, and they may run some tests to be sure that certain levels aren’t dangerously low or that there isn’t an underlying problem.

If you’re taking birth control, that also may be affecting your anxiety, so be sure to bring that up with them as well.

It may also be good to practice yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Clearing your mind for even five minutes every day can set you on the path to a calmer mind.

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If you think you may be experiencing GAD, definitely talk to your doctor and think about the things that are worrying you the most. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to just take care of yourself. People will understand, I promise. Just take it day by day. Anxiety can be a hell of a thing; take steps to prevent it from completely taking over your life.

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