The above table is the official diagnostic criteria from the DSMV which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which is the book your mental health professional would use to explore whether you meet criteria for any disorder. I want to take this time to walk you throught step-by-step:
A – Excessive worry or not more than 3 days per week, for more than six consecutive months of your life, about several areas of life. Here are some things that you might experience:
- Difficulty focusing due to intrusive worry thoughts.
- Difficulty falling asleep.
- Having the sensation of “too many tabs open”.
- Urges to avoid social gatherings.
- Fear of being judged.
- Difficulty making decisions.
- Difficulty “letting go” of events.
- Replaying past hurts or future fears.
- Visualizing feared scenarios repetitively.
- Compensatory actions: excessive to-do lists, obsessing over schedule, writing and hyper-researching plans.
B – Difficulty controlling the worry. This might seem easy to understand but consider whether:
- You have a hard time focusing on your work.
- You loose interest in hobbies because you can’t relax into them.
- Your loved ones get annoyed with your fixations.
- You frequently ask friends/loved ones for assurances.
C – You experience three of the six symptoms below:
- Restlessness or feeling “keyed up” or “on edge”.
- Being easily fatigued.
- Difficulty concentrating or going blank.
- Muscle tension.
- Sleep disturbance (trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or nightmares).
D – They symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in important areas of life. What this means is that the symptoms bother you and get in the way of your success or productivity at work, at home, in clubs, with friends, in your neighborhood and/or with your family. This might look like:
- Unable to keep up with chores.
- Avoiding social interactions or remaining quiet and standing at the fringes during social events.
- Not completing tasks that were requested of you.
- Making and not completing to-do list for yourself.
- Lack of eye contact socially.
E and F – The symptoms don’t come from another cause such as drug use or a medical condition. This is why it’s always a great idea to request bloodwork and a medical check up to be sure there isn’t an underlying cause that needs treated. Prescription medications and/or over-the-counter supplements can cause anxiety as a side effect, illegal drugs can increase anxiety, and too much caffeine can play a role as well! It is important to rule out any possible factors as to not overlook a treatment option.
If you feel that you meet criteria for generalized anxiety disorder, I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care provider and/or a mental health professional to discuss treatment options.