GAD Coping Overcoming Stigma for Generalized Anxiety Disorder By Will Meek, PhD Will Meek, PhD Facebook Will Meek, PHD, is Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Brown University and has been in university counseling leadership since 2008. Learn about our editorial process Updated on January 18, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Hero Images / DigitalVision / Getty Images Overcoming stigma for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the biggest barriers to people seeking help. It's what mental health professionals call “social stigma.” Essentially, social stigma is the negative view that others can project onto people who reveal particular imperfections or problems. What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Many people feel anxious from time to time, especially during times of stress. However, when you worry excessively, so much so that it interferes with day-to-day activities, you might have GAD. Some people develop GAD as a child while others do not see symptoms until they are an adult. Either way, living with GAD can last a long time. In many cases, it occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders. In most cases, it improves with medications or talk therapy (psychotherapy). Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques also can help. Symptoms GAD symptoms can include: Persistent worrying or obsession about small or large concerns that are out of proportion to the impact of the eventInability to set aside or let go of a worryInability to relax, restlessness, and feeling keyed up or on edgeDifficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind "goes blank"Worrying about excessively worryingDistress about making decisions for fear of making the wrong decisionCarrying every option in a situation all the way out to its possible negative conclusionDifficulty handling uncertainty or indecisiveness Physical signs and symptoms may include: FatigueIrritabilityMuscle tension or muscle achesTrembling, feeling twitchyBeing easily startledTrouble sleepingSweatingNausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndromeHeadaches Overcoming Stigma One of the largest factors that makes stigma so powerful is that at an extreme level, it can lead people to reject or exclude others. It is common for someone with GAD or other psychological problems to think that if they reveal struggles to friends or seek professional help that they will suffer serious social or professional problems. Therefore, the threat of this actually happening in the social world can become a tremendous barrier. Fortunately, social exclusion is much more often the exception rather than the rule. Since being seen as “crazy” or “insane” carries a significant stigma in American culture (think about how often that is used to insult someone), any possibility that one could be misunderstood and seen as "crazy" is significantly threatening. It is common for someone to worry that others will see them as "crazy," but also that getting a diagnosis for GAD actually means that they are, which is absolutely false. Stigma is real and can certainly have an impact in some cases. However, for many people, stigma does not directly affect them. When they disclose their problems to close friends or family members, they often feel a dramatic enhancement of their relationships, not the exclusion or rejection that they fear. Furthermore, most people do not have increased social or work problems after they begin to own their struggles with anxiety. Once you become educated about stigma and your potential problems with anxiety and worry, you can make an active choice to do something to improve your life. Sometimes doing things like this poses the risk of some negative consequences. But often the benefits of improvement vastly outweigh the difficulties that come with acknowledging that you may have GAD. The 7 Best Online Anxiety Support Groups Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Mayo Clinic. 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