Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Families

Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Families: What You Need to Know

The person with generalized anxiety disorder is inexplicably cautious and avoids situations that most would normally find stimulating, growthful and even fun. They often become increasingly concerned about their anxieties over time. This is due to the down regulation of their highest mind. These distortions affect every member of the family. Yes, Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects the person, their families and everyone who knows and loves them.

The family may initially battle the illogical nature of these concerns, but over time these efforts are seen as fruitless and often people give up. To protect themselves, they may create a safe distance from the negative judgments they experience when talking about these concerns. They also distance themselves to avoid endless accommodations to the family member's endless, seemingly baseless concerns. The family to some extent often feels obliged to accept these distortions as the way the person ‘really feels.’ This may draw the entire family along a path that makes little sense to any of them other than, ‘this is the way it is at our house’.

Children are forced to accept a parent’s anxious views and may at times incorporate them as their own. When a child has the disorder, the family is forced to deal with a child’s lack of full participation in life with all the frustration and guilt this might entail. Often one parent may argue, “If only you could be firmer!” while the other adamantly responds, “If only you weren’t so mean!” The ongoing symptoms in a child have at times led to one parent accusing another of child abuse, with all the legal and social implications one might imagine. All of this plays to justify the anxiety the child has providing for negative outcomes that make little sense to those trying to evaluate the situation from a Guardian ad Litem perspective.

This information may make suffering with GAD seem hopeless, but that is certainly not the case. In the following section, you will find a long list of resources that can provide you or your family with the support and understanding you deserve.

Where to get Help for GAD

  • Many online sites like the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH can be very helpful.
  • Several books have been helpful including:
    Peace for Nervous Suffering by Clair Weekes, Ph. D.
    The Anxiety Disease by David Shehan, MD
  • Support Groups like National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), have web sites ( and local support groups where others may suggest strategies they have FOUND helpful.
  • Friends who have successfully dealt with anxiety themselves or in a family member may have information about local resources, dietary, exercise and other strategies they have found helpful.
  • Many churches and communities have resources or know of local resources.
  • Your family doctor can review any medical issues and likely has suggestions about local resources.
  • Local therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists can provide assessments and help you develop a plan of action. Most will have at least some expertise in this arena.
  • When needed, you can go to a nationally recognized center for treatment or a second opinion. If you are not getting better, suspect another diagnosis and get a second opinion. If one isn’t locally available then seek out a nationally recognized anxiety center.
How to Identify Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
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