Growing up, Minnesota native Sarah Ellefson was familiar with anxiety. Her father had battled it throughout most of her childhood. And when she was 18, she found herself dealing with anxiety as well.

“I had my first panic attack at my parents' house,” Ellefson tells Health. “My dad really helped me because he knew exactly what I was dealing with.

Ellefson is one of over 6.8 million Americans who will deal with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in any given year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. GAD is characterized by excessive worry about a variety of events or activities, such as work or school. People with GAD find it difficult to control their worrying, which may make it challenging to function professionally and in social settings.

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