Everyone has anxiety at some point in their lives. That gut clench in your stomach before an interview. A racing mind before a big exam. Feeling a little nauseous at the prospect of getting up to speak in front of people. For situations like these, anxiety is perfectly normal – as long as the anxiety is short-lived. But what if it’s not? Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is a long-term condition that can cause you to feel anxious about a lot of situations or issues, and not just one specific thing or event. GAD causes mental and physical problems. Most people with GAD don’t remember the last time they felt relaxed. Symptoms range from feeling restless or worried, trouble concentrating or sleeping and even dizziness, panic attacks and trouble sleeping. Like most mental health disorders, the exact cause of the onset of these symptoms are unknown. Overactivity of the parts of the brain dealing with emotions and behavior, an imbalance of chemicals in the brain or genetic factors can all play a role. Traumatic experiences, long-term health conditions and drug or alcohol abuse are also thought to play a part. Because GAD can have a detrimental effect on your everyday life, it is important to get help. Cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy can help immensely. Medication can be prescribed, but a combination of the two are usually most effective. The best way to offer support to a friend or relative with GAD is to LISTEN. Don’t say things like Calm downIts not a big dealI know how you feelJust breatheIt’s all in your head Simply say, “I’m here for you.” Ask if there is anything you can do to help – everyone is different and we all self soothe in different ways. Offer them a hug, but don’t take it personally if they decline – often anxiety and panic attacks can make a person feel claustrophobic. We are all human, and we all have bad days. Remember, kindness goes a long way – you never know what someone else is dealing with!