Understanding Generalised Anxiety Disorder

What is GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder)?

We will all suffer from some kind of anxiety during our life, whether it’s sitting an exam, taking your driving test, or a big social occasion like getting married, but it’s usually for an obvious reason and short lived.  General anxiety disorder however is a long-term condition where a person feels anxious all the time, for more than one reason.  It can often seem that as soon as you stop worrying about one thing you start to worry about another, and you might struggle to recall a time when you didn’t feel anxious. GAD can have a serious impact on a person’s daily life often leaving them feeling unable to cope.  Whilst children can develop GAD it’s more common in people in their thirties and tends to affect women more often than men.  


The cause of generalised anxiety disorder is not fully known and there is no single cause for the condition, it is however believed to be a combination of several factors which include both genetic and environmental causes.  These can include the following:

·      A family history of anxiety can make you more likely to develop GAD

·      Overuse of caffeine, tobacco or drug and alcohol misuse

·      Development and personality

·      Childhood bullying, abuse or domestic violence

·      Recent or prolonged exposure to stressful situations

·      Differences in brain function and chemistry, particularly in areas of the brain involved with behaviours and emotions, or an imbalance of serotonin or noradrenaline

·      Health conditions such as arthritis, thyroid problems or long-term pain conditions.

However in some instances people can develop GAD without any obvious reason.

Physical Symptoms

·      Difficulties sleeping

·      Exhaustion and fatigue

·      Irritability

·      Muscle tension, aches and pains

·      Being easily startled due to being nervous or on edge

·      Numbness or tingling

·      Sweating or sweaty palms

·      Stomach and bowel issues, like nausea or diarrhoea or generally using the bathroom more often

·      Dry mouth

·      Rapid or irregular heartbeat

·      Twitching or trembling

·      Difficulty swallowing

Psychological Symptoms

·      Anxiety

·      Problems concentrating

·      Over thinking

·      Inability to relax

·      Feeling restless

·      Perceiving things as threats when they aren’t

·      Excessively worrying

Self Help

There is a lot of information available on-line regarding GAD and ways to help you manage and reduce your anxiety levels.  This can range from improving your general health like cutting down on caffeine, tobacco and alcohol, eating and sleeping well, encouraging you to exercise and practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques.  Self-help guides and courses are also available as well as support groups, which some people find helpful.

Professional Help

If you find that you are still struggling to cope with your anxiety then you should see your doctor, who can help if it’s having a major impact on your daily life.  They can rule out any underlying medical conditions, and if necessary prescribe medications such as anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants or SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).  They can also refer you for psychological therapy such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which can help you to change your thinking and behaviours and teach you how to recognise and manage your anxiety.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK).  For more free information click above link.