Anxiety is a common experience that almost everyone encounters at some point in their life. It occurs when a person becomes uneasy in certain situations, becomes anxious, or experiences high levels of tension. While occasional anxiety is normal, free-floating anxiety or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) occurs when the anxiety cannot be linked to any known specific object, situation, or event. Unfortunately, it can happen out of nowhere for no apparent reason.
Free-Floating Anxiety Causes
Free-floating anxiety is a condition that is estimated to affect about 6.8 million people in America. As with many health conditions, what causes GAD isn’t well understood. It’s likely that the condition has several causes that may include the following:
- Brain chemistry
- Environment stressors
Generalized anxiety disorder has similar symptoms as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other types of anxiety, but they’re all different conditions.
Signs and Symptoms of Free-Floating Anxiety
Most types of anxiety have similar symptoms. GAD is often accompanied by other forms of anxiety disorders, including:
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
People with these conditions are more likely to suffer from depression. The symptoms of GAD depend on the individual and the severity of the case. Symptoms may include:
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle contraction
- Hot flashes
More serious physical symptoms include:
- Breathing difficulty
- Heart complications
In addition to physical symptoms, free-floating anxiety may affect one’s ability to think, distort one’s self-image and cause other psychological problems, including, panic or worrying, moodiness, irritability, insomnia, depression, and concentration difficulties. Like other diseases, GAD can worsen if left untreated. Health experts should address minor symptoms immediately to prevent the anxiety from escalating and becoming even more debilitating.
Treatment Options for Free-floating Anxiety
If you believe that you may have GAD, you can take start by recording the events that seem to cause it. For example, what happens before, during, and after you experience anxiety? Are there common situations or events that seem to trigger it?
Noting your anxiety can help in several ways:
- First, understanding your symptoms will help a medical professional distinguish between the occasional anxiety that we all suffer from and the more serious GAD.
- Second, noting the reasons for the anxiety and identifying underlying causes are often the first steps of talk therapy.
- Third, many people find that writing down and assessing their moods helps them manage and assess their emotions, and eliminate distorting thoughts.
Making time to note your emotions is a key part of cognitive behavioral therapy.
- If you are diagnosed with free-floating anxiety, treatment will probably involve a combination of pharmaceuticals and therapy.
- The medications most often used to treat GAD in the short-term are from a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These medications are sometimes referred to as “tranquilizers,” because they leave you feeling calm and relaxed. Common benzodiazepines include Xanax, Librium, Valium, and Ativan. Antidepressants, especially Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are also used to treat free-floating anxiety.
- These medications are usually combined with some form of therapy. The most common is cognitive-behavioral therapy, where you learn to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to anxious feelings. This type of therapy helps limit distorted thinking and overwhelming emotions by looking at worries in a more realistic way.
- In addition, relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and biofeedback, may be used to calm mind and body. For some people, these natural remedies are sufficient to learn to calm everyday worries. Others use them to complement conventional medicine and medications.
Prevention of Free-Floating Anxiety
Like other mental illnesses, GAD can be embarrassing for those suffering from it. It is important to try to let go of those emotions and any internalized stigma. Talk to friends and family so they have a good idea of what you are going through so they can give you ample support.
If you feel that your condition is impacting your quality of life or is more than you can handle, go speak to a medical professional as soon as possible. GAD may worsen with time, so early intervention is imperative.
Learning how to cope with free-floating anxiety is a multi-faceted, long process. Free-floating anxiety is different for every person, however, the core principles usually involve:
- Avoiding triggers
- Learning how to understand your emotions
- Assessing distorting thoughts
- Engaging positive behaviors that stimulate the body and mind
- Using medications to change your brain chemistry and alter your emotional, psychological and physical response to situations.
- Practicing yoga to manage your anxiety by reducing tension, stress, and improving breathing and physical wellbeing. Meditation can help you calm your mind, achieve mental clarity, and can help you understand conflicting emotions.
To ease stress, try to distinguish between the task at hand and your emotional response to it. Try not to set yourself up to fail with unrealistic expectations. Meditation is an excellent tool to learn how to manage stress, though its results are not instantaneous (like pharmaceutical drugs) and take time and practice.
Try to avoid things that trigger your anxiety, such as coffee and caffeinated drinks. Smoking can also trigger anxiety.
Final Words for Free-Floating Anxiety
Free-floating anxiety or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a type of mental illness with causes not widely understood. It can sometimes be prevented through behavior and thought modification as long as it is caught early. GAD is often linked to depression and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Family and community support are essential during this time. A growing number of people have found that alternative remedies, such as yoga and meditation, are effective when paired with conventional medicine and can help manage, control, or even cure this illness.
What Is Free-Floating Anxiety?
Free-floating anxiety is a type of mental illness that occurs when a person becomes uneasy in certain situations, becomes anxious, or experiences high levels of tension for no apparent reason.
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