Free Floating Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, And How to Deal?

The American Psychological Association defines Free-Floating Anxiety as dispersed, severe feelings of uneasiness that are not due to a particular subject or object. In fact, free-floating anxiety may be a symptom of a host of anxiety disorders, particularly Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-5) does not define free-floating anxiety as a separate mental disorder. 

Accordingly, free-floating anxiety is nothing but feelings of constant worry, distress, nervousness, and discomfort that you experience without any specific reason. Further, some people may experience free-floating anxiety due to the conditions of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

GAD is a mental disorder that is marked by constant worry, fear, and feeling of being overwhelmed. It is marked by excessive, continuous, and unrealistic worry with regards to multiple things of routine life. These may include persistent worry about various aspects of life such as money, family, work, health, etc.  

Further, GAD is one of the common mental disorders and typically begins at the age of 31 years. However, this mental condition develops gradually and can start at any time during the lifetime. 

People suffering from anxiety use medications, CBT, and anxiety supplements to deal with anxiety. Although anxiety supplements are not controlled by the FDA, there exist some of the best anxiety supplements that help to deal with anxiety issues. 

Causes of Free-Floating Anxiety

It is extremely challenging to point out the causes that lead to free-floating anxiety or GAD as there is no one cause responsible for it. GAD, which is typically characterized by free-floating anxiety, can result from a traumatic situation, genetic inheritance, or brain chemistry. Typically, people experiencing chronic stress,  having a family history of anxiety, or chemical disturbances have higher odds of having GAD. 

Their worry is unrealistic and unwanted which prevents some from normal functioning. 

Symptoms of Free-Floating Anxiety

As mentioned earlier, free-floating anxiety is one of the common symptoms of GAD. Some of the other symptoms include: 

  • Excessive anxiety and worry about a host of things and occur more days than not for at least 6 months. 
  • Difficulty in controlling worry
  • Restlessness, feeling on the edge, or getting stunned easily
  • Free-floating anxiety
  • Constant worry which is not in proportion to the given situation
  • Inability to relax
  • Finding hard to concentrate or mind going blank
  • Getting tired easily
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbance includes finding it difficult to fall asleep, feeling restless, or not having satisfactory sleep
  • Constant worry, anxiety, and physical symptoms result in clinically  critical distress, or impairment in social, occupational, or other important aspects of functioning
  • The disturbance is not due to the physiological effects of a substance like a medication or a drug of abuse  or any other mental condition
  • Such a disturbance is not explained better by any other mental issue like panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, etc. 

In addition to these symptoms, you must also remember that many factors differentiate GAD from non-pathological anxiety. 

For instance, constant worry pinned to GAD is disproportionate to the actual impact or actual possibility of the expected event. And such a worry interferes with the day-to-day functioning of the individuals. 

Further, these worries are more noticeable, prevalent, distressing, are of longer duration, and occur often without any cause. Also, the wider the spectrum of life situations that one worries about, the more probable are his symptoms to meet the criteria for GAD. In addition to this, routine worries are less probable to be accompanied by physical symptoms.  

How to Deal With Free-Floating Anxiety?

The two major treatments for GAD include medications and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). A majority of medical professionals use a combination of these methods to treat free-floating anxiety. They also support these treatment methods with alternative treatments such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness training to help individuals recover. 

  • Pharmacotherapy or Medications

There are a host of medications that are used to treat GAD. These include:

  • Antidepressants

The medical professional you consult may prescribe medications to treat GAD. These may include Selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants prescribed by medical professionals to treat anxiety. These include drugs like citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), and fluvoxamine (Luvox).

  • Benzodiazepines

These are commonly used sedatives that are used for treating GAD. These include diazepam, lorazepam, clonazepam, and alprazolam. These are, however, addictive in nature and can make individuals dependent on them. 

  • Buspirone

Unlike benzodiazepines, these do not cause dependency and are also less sedating.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

CBT is a psychiatric therapy technique that helps individuals become aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and helps in changing the maladaptive thought and behavior patterns. Further, CBT eventually helps individuals to stay and reduce their vulnerability to situations that trigger anxiety. 

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By Cary Grant

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