With the busy times and the tumultuous world we live in, we may all experience worry and anxiety once in awhile. However, when those feelings turn into a debilitating condition, we need to seek help as we could be experiencing Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
To understand GAD better we’re going to explore what this condition is, the causes, symptoms and how an emotional support animal can help with generalized anxiety disorder.
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is when a person feels excessive and chronic anxiety over things in life that have no apparent reason for worry. Patients with GAD tend to always expect disaster and will constantly worry over health, money, work, school and their family. Unlike normal worry in these areas of life, people with GAD have unrealistic concerns that are out of proportion with the situation. Unfortunately without proper treatment people with this disorder have lives that are filled with fear, dread, and anxiety which can interfere with everyday activities and living.
What Causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
Although science has not pinpointed the exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder, they do know there are three main areas that can contribute to this condition. These include;
- Brain Chemistry – abnormal functioning of nerve cell pathways that lead to the regions of the brain that involve emotion and thinking. These nerve cells depend on chemicals called ‘neurotransmitters’ that literally transmit information from one cell to the next. When these pathways do not run smoothly they can directly affect a person’s mood and emotions.
- Genetics – scientists believe that if a member of your family suffers from GAD the likelihood increases for the other members.
- Environmental Factors – stress and traumatic events can lead to generalized anxiety disorder. This can include a death in the family, divorce, or a chronic illness. It can also be intensified by the withdrawing from drugs, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
There are many symptoms of GAD, both emotional and physical, that can vary in intensity and from person-to-person. Here is a look at these emotional and physical conditions.
Emotional Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Excessive worry over “small” issues that are not that important
- Inability to stop worrying
- Inability to relax
- Difficulty concentrating
- Worrying about worrying
- Fear of making the wrong decision
- Pondering every possible outcome of a situation, which always concludes in a negative outcome
- Difficulty handling indecision
Physical Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Muscle pain/tensions
- Easily startled
- Nausea, vomiting and irritable bowels
How an Emotional Support Animal Can Help With Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you may be suffering from generalized anxiety disorder and will want to see a doctor or mental health professional for a diagnosis. Your doctor will ask you many questions in order to pinpoint what may be triggering your GAD and will use these to come up with an action plan.
Some doctors will prescribe medications along with changes in your lifestyle according to the symptoms you are experiencing. However, there are mental health and medical professionals that believe the enlistment of an Emotional Support Animal can be a way to help with many of the symptoms their patients experience.
For example, people with an animal will have something else to focus their attentions on, other than themselves. If the ESA is of the canine species, the dog will have to be walked which according to the Mayo Clinic is one of the “alternate” ways (exercise) to treat GAD as well as getting out and being more social.
In addition, having an ESA can help the person feel they are not alone. Animals are great listeners, they will never judge and will never tire of hearing about the problems (big or small).
Lastly, animals can be very therapeutic. Studies have shown that petting an animal will decrease blood pressure, heart rate and provides the release of those feel-good hormones.
How to Get Emotional Support Animal Documentation
Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Emotional Support Animals
If you have been diagnosed with GAD and are looking for an alternate treatment method to add to or enhance the plan you and your doctor have put in place, be sure to get an ESA that works best for you. If you are afraid of or have allergies to all things furry, then perhaps a bird or reptile may be a good fit for you. Additionally, if you have a diagnosed GAD you and your ESA do have rights under the Federal laws, so be sure to know these rights when dealing with apartment landlords/building owners and when booking a flight.
Emotional Support Animals can be a great way to help alleviate the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Don’t let this condition rule your life. Take action, get a plan and start living the life you were meant to have.
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