Let me start this off by saying that I have not now or at any other time spoken to a doctor or mental health professional about this, so I do not have a formal diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. My symptoms are:
- I worry a LOT, all the time but especially in bed before I am supposed to go to sleep. I can lay awake for many hours just worrying about what would happen in case of job loss, if my car broke down, if a family reunion goes very badly, and so on.
- The worrying gives me difficulty concentrating on work and other tasks. This is a never ending cycle because it causes poor performance at work which means I worry more about losing my job.
- I have difficulty going into unfamiliar situations, especially meeting new people. It really makes me anxious.
Tips like realistic self talk, mindfulness meditation, exercise, and so on are not helping me. My anxiety is ruining my life.
That is a very difficult thing to deal with. And what is more, it is very difficult to get out of this situation without any help. Anxiety is a state of mind, and if you try to solve it just by thinking, you will be doing so with an anxious state of mind and that doesn't help much because you will still be in the anxiety box, so to speak.
Maybe it's good to go and see a therapist. Or psychiatrist because they can prescribe anxiety medication, which might help you as well. Maybe cognitive behavioral therapy would be a good place to start, before looking for meds, however.
Best of luck.
I have heard Generalized Anxiety Disorder described as "a worry machine in your head". Does that sound accurate?
There are certainly strategies to cope, such as "realistic self talk" as you mention: ask yourself, is this worry reflective of reality? Is it helping you reach your goals, or standing in the way of them? Does constantly hashing it over in your mind achieve anything?
Then there are breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and spending time doing things that do not make you feel anxious.
If you have already tried these seriously and they are not helping you lift the shadow of doom, all I can do is agree with the other posters so far and say that yes, it's time to look into medication.
Gently, judging by your post, it seems like you are feeling very overwhelmed right now. That happens to the best of us, and when it does, we know by the way we feel that something is wrong, but not always what is wrong.
Hence I chose a "work in progress" sign as my avatar. Nobody is perfect. We are all works in progress. The trick is to realize that, accept it, and to seek help when we do. Because "it takes a village" isn't just for raising children, but for all of us. And if your own village can't help you, there is no shame in expanding it. I have been in therapy and it helped me enormously. Never with meds, but if I needed them I would not not snub them.
Yes, research actually shows that therapy is the most effective way to treat anxiety. Except for cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy can also greatly help reduce anxiety in some cases. This is a 'facing your fears' kind of therapy, where you are exposed to the things that make you most anxious in a controlled and safe environment. After some time, with practice, you will gradually grow used to your triggers and your anxiety will be reduced. It seems your biggest triggers are social situations, especially with strangers. This is something you can work on in therapy.
But... medication can also prove to be a lifesaver. Don't say no if you would benefit.
I hope people don't mind if I join in!
I think my sister suffers from anxiety. She always appears very stressed. She seems to be cranky and moody whenever you ask her something and constantly complains about her coworkers being unfair. She even got herself into a disciplinary meeting after yelling at a coworker. Which she thought was very unfair because in her mind she was right. This is caused by changes in her department.
In her private life, she does not associate with anyone and I have the feeling that she isolates herself on purpose. I think she has dealt with this all her adult life and that makes me feel rather sad.
Is there anything I can do to help?
I did want to come back here and ask you to check the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. GAD is basically, in layman's terms, normal worries and anxiety taken to a whole new level. People who don't have GAD worry about all the same things (worries about work, finances, social situations, and all that stuff happen to all of us from time to time), but it's not sometimes, it's all the time and it is intrusive to the point where it interferes with daily functioning.
There are both professional and home remedies for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to eating right and getting enough sleep (with the help of some meds if need be). If you have it and could get rid of your symptoms with lifestyle adjustments and therapy, you would want to, right?