The unusual occurrence of anxiety can lead you to question- “ Is Generalized anxiety disorder neurodivergent?”. When you experience anxiety for the first time in your life, you may have doubts about whether your anxiety is a result of neurodivergence. It is normal to have these doubts when you are not sure why you are experiencing anxiety. This blog will help you figure out if your anxiety is due to neurodivergence or not.
Over the years, there has been a dramatic increase in the onset of generalized anxiety disorder. According to data from the National Institute of Health, up to 20% of US adults are affected by anxiety disorders each year with generalized anxiety being a common disorder. While the exact cause of this disorder is unknown, WebMed’s research suggests that it may be caused by a combination of genetic, chemical, and environmental factors. This often leads to the question: Is generalized anxiety disorder neurodivergent? Yes, it can be, but you need to dig deeper into this blog to find out if your anxiety disorder is linked to neurodivergence.
What does it mean to be neurodivergent?
A neurodivergent person processes information differently and has a unique way of experiencing things. They gain knowledge and engage in social interactions in a manner that is different from that of a typical person.
For example- Let’s imagine a social gathering featuring two distinct individuals: one neurotypical ( with typical human behavior and the other neurodivergent ( with a unique perspective). The room is filled with group chatter and background noise. A neurotypical person walks around the room easily and makes small talk. A neurodivergent person struggles to maintain eye contact and interpret social cues. It’s not because they’re shy or anxious, it’s because they are wired this way due to their sensory sensitivities.
This is why neurodiversity was once considered a problem or abnormal, but scientists have recently discovered that there are many benefits to being neurodiverse. While neurodiverse people may struggle in some areas of life, they can also have higher levels of enthusiasm, creative energy, connectivity, and exceptional imagination.
Is generalized anxiety Disorder neurodivergent?
In the discourse surrounding the question “Is generalized anxiety disorder neurodivergent?” Below is the spectrum of perspectives for and against the statement
Arguments for the Statement
- In certain situations, the changes associated with generalized anxiety are similar to symptoms of neurodivergent conditions like ADHD or autism.
- People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) often face common neurodivergent issues, such as sensory processing disorder (SPSD), increased sensitivity to sight, sound, smell, or texture, social issues, and executive dysfunction.
- Some people with neuro disorders, like autism or ADHD, tend to have anxiety symptoms, including generalized anxiety
- Both generalized and neurodiverse conditions are affected by genetic and environmental elements. This hints towards a yes to the question “ Is generalized anxiety neurodivergent?”
Arguments against the statement
Generalized anxiety is a state of high stress and anxiety that interferes with everyday life. Its symptoms differ from those of neurodivergent disorders. The following points outline the key differences-
- Symptoms of generalized anxiety range from mild to severe and can be managed with effective treatment, while neurodivergent conditions are long-term illnesses.
- GAD treatment approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication, are different from those used for mental health disorders in neurodiverse conditions.
- Current medical definitions of neurodivergence do not include generalized anxiety in the definition of neurodiversity
The classification of mental health conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder, is primarily rooted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and other standardized diagnostic criteria. Because there is no formal medical claim of generalized anxiety as a neurodivergence condition, there can’t be a clear yes or No to the question “ Is generalized anxiety disorder neurodivergent?”
Signs Of Being Neurodivergent
A person with neurodivergence typically displays symptoms similar to those seen in people with autism, ADHD, or dyslexia. According to research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, ADHD is a widespread neurodevelopmental disorder that is estimated to affect as many as 7% of the world’s adult population. The following are some other common symptoms of neurodivergence:
- Difficulty in communicating socially
- Learning challenges in day-to-day life such as difficulty in focusing or reading
- Difficulty in adapting to changes in interest according to age and situation
- Sensory sensitivities, such as heightened responses to stimuli like lights or sounds
- Hyperactivity and making impulsive decisions
- Unusual signs of physical behavior such as involuntary motor and vocal tics.
Generalized Anxiety vs Neurodivergence Anxiety
We often use both terms together which has raised a question of doubt “Is generalized anxiety disorder neurodivergent?”. However, both these terms have distinct effects on an individual. The brain of a neurodivergent person is wired uniquely, shaping distinct perspectives and presenting heightened challenges. As a result, neurodivergence often causes more intense anxiety than normal anxiety. Research says neurodivergent anxiety acts as an umbrella term for a range of disorders which includes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). While generalized anxiety is not inherently associated with atypical neurological development, neurodiverse anxiety is the result of a person’s brain’s different ways of working and processing. Social difficulties, sensory sensitivity, or executive function can cause it.
1. Why is generalized anxiety disorder not neurodivergent?
There are a few reasons why generalized anxiety is not a neurodiverse condition. First, the intensity of generalized anxiety symptoms varies. Second, generalized anxiety can also be treated with effective treatment. whereas neurodivergent anxiety is a lifelong experience with no permanent solution.
2. What condition counts as neurodivergent?
Neurodivergent refers to conditions that are not considered neurotypical. Some of the common conditions that are considered neurodivergent include, Autism spectrum disorder, Attention deficit disorder, Tourette syndrome, dyslexia, etc
3. Are all mental disorders neurodivergent?
No, not all mental disorders are neurodivergent. Any mental disorder is categorized as neurodivergent only if it brings a change in brain process and function
4. Can you live a normal life with generalized anxiety?
While generalized anxiety is a challenging experience, with proper management and effective treatment, it’s possible to live a normal life in the presence of anxiety.
5. Is generalized anxiety disorder neurodivergent?
While a neurodivergent person may have an increased risk of anxiety, not every neurodivergent person experiences anxiety. Several factors contribute to anxiety in a neurodivergent person. It differs according to their sensory Sensitivities, executive functioning challenges, and social and environmental factors.
Being aware of the difference between neurodivergent anxiety and generalized anxiety will help you take a clearer approach toward its diagnosis. These unusual conditions should not be seen as a flaw but rather an opportunity to take better care of yourself and your body. Don’t panic when you experience frequent changes in how your mind works. Instead, try to see and understand these changes. In case you are unable to deal with it by yourself, seek the help of a medical expert who can guide you through the right path to recovery. Remember, anxiety is not a default in your system, but a reboot that can be your key to a healthier life.