CALIFORNIA PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC RESOURCES, INC.
PATRICIA MCTAGUE-LOFT, MS, LMFT, FAPA, SAP
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Posted on: November 24, 2021
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Everyone wakes up with the realization that the day ahead is going to be filled with challenges — once in a while. But if you find yourself waking up filled with anxiety on a regular basis, that’s a red flag. There’s no recognized condition known as morning anxiety, but if it’s a pattern of behavior then you may need to reflect on the root cause.
Writing for Healthline, Sara Lindberg says “If you are dealing with excessive anxiety, worry, and stress in the morning, there’s a good chance you may also have generalized anxiety.” That is an identifiable condition known as generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. That, says Lindberg, “is characterized by excessive and uncontrolled worry that pervades daily life and occurs frequently for at least six months. People with GAD typically worry about everyday activities such as work, money, family, and health.”
If you’re feeling irritable when you first wake up, or fatigued or have difficulty breathing, these are clues that your morning anxiety may be a sign of GAD. That’s when it’s time for some self-reflection that may help you understand the cause of your anxiety. “The ‘stress hormone’ cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress,” writes Lindberg. “Researchers have studied the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and have found that cortisol is highest in the first hour of waking for people with an increased level of stress in their lives. This helps explain why you may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.”
Living with anxiety is no way to live at all. If you recognize the symptoms of morning anxiety or GAD then it’s time to consider reaching out to a professional. Psychotherapy is an effective treatment for GAD, and medications are also used in certain cases. Fortunately, there are also lifestyle changes that can be effective in reducing morning anxiety. Lindberg includes the following changes that may help:
In addition, abundant research indicates that physical activity, meditation and deep breathing exercises can help control anxiety. Read a further discussion of techniques to reduce morning anxiety and GAD here.
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Disclaimer: The screening tests and videos that are linked on this web site are not designed to provide diagnoses for the various clinical issues. They are intended solely for the purpose of identifying the symptoms of the issues and to help you make a more informed decision about seeking help. An accurate diagnosis for these clinical issues and other psychiatric disorders can only be made by a physician or qualified mental health professional after a complete evaluation. If you have scores that indicate that you meet criteria for these issues or think that you may be at risk, please contact a mental health professional or your physician.