When Does Worry Become Abnormal?
When is worrying not normal? We all worry, but for some worrying can become overwhelming or never ending. When that worrying starts to take over, according to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), is when generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) sets in.
People with GAD jump from worry to worry, usually focused on specific things that may not be rooted in reality. They may go from worrying about finances, onto worrying about the health of someone they know, on to something else. Meanwhile, they may not be in financial trouble, and often the people they worry about are in fine heath.
It is obviously normal to worry about finances or health if you are facing bankruptcy or if you know someone afflicted with cancer, but worries not grounded in reality are a big red flag for GAD, according to Live Science. Another key sign is that the worry begins to impair their functioning or causing evident significant distress.
“They are so unable to turn off the worries they can’t function well at work. It’s in their heads all the time, when they are with other people, or at home with the kids,” said Robin Rosenberg, co-author of the psychology textbook “Abnormal Psychology”.
What sets this condition apart from those dealing with panic disorder is that the anxiety accompanying generalized anxiety disorder is low-key and chronic. Often sufferers find themself worrying without knowing what they are worrying about.
The criteria for GAD has stayed largely the same with the release of the new DSM, but statistically women over the age of 40 are more likely to be diagnosed with GAD than men, and the worries appear to change based on environment. In third-world countries or less developed regions, GAD patients tend to worry more about natural disasters, while those in industrialized or technologically developed countries tend to worry about human problems more.