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Worrying can prey on your social life

health and fitness Updated: Jul 31, 2011 01:17 IST

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Know someone who gets panicky about the most trivial things in life? Or a person who maintains an impossible calm in the worst of the situations?

Both of them could be suffering from GAD, a Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Over-nurturing and extreme detachment are some of the negative methods used by people to cope with the disease, says Case Western Reserve psychologist Amy Przeworski.

Worrying can be so obsessive that it may sabotage our social relationships, she says.

Przeworski and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University observed that those undergoing therapy for GAD manifested their worries in different ways based on how they interact with other people.

The researchers found four distinct interactive styles among people with GAD — intrusive, cold, non-assertive and exploitable.

Both studies supported the presence of these four interpersonal styles and their significant role in how people with GAD manifested their worrying.

“All individuals with these styles worried to the same extent and extreme, but manifested those worries in different ways,” Przeworski said.

Take the examples of two people with similar worries about someone’s health and safety. One person may exhibit that worry through frequent intrusive expressions of concern for the other person.

Think of the spouse who calls every five minutes to get an update on what’s happening. Another person may exhibit the worry by criticising the behaviours that the person believes to be reckless.

The worry may be similar, but its impact on their interpersonal relationships would be extremely different.

“This suggests that interpersonal problems and worry may be intertwined,” Przeworski says. She suggests that therapies to treat GAD should target both the worry and the related interpersonal problems.