Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition that causes excessive worry about a wide range of situations, rather than one specific event. Many people with GAD anticipate a disaster is going to happen and may be overly concerned about money, health, family and work.
GAD is a common condition and is estimated to affect around 5% of the UK population with women being twice as likely to be affected as men.
GAD is a fluctuating condition usually precipitated by change events which people perceive outside of their control. People with GAD often describe fluctuating low mood which is directly related to their anxiety. Those with GAD will often have perfectionistic, striving personalities so they often do well in their careers.
The exact cause of GAD is not fully understood, however, it is believed that it is likely to be down to a combination of factors including biological factors, family background and stressful life experiences.
GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control their worry on more days than not for at least 6 months and has three or more of the following symptoms.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder symptoms can vary from person to person, but can include:
- Persistent worrying about a number of events that are out of proportion to reality.
- Overthinking plans and situations to all possible worst case scenarios.
- Perceiving events as being threatening, even when they’re not.
- Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decisions.
- Inability to relax, restlessness and feeling on edge.
- Waking up early in the morning feeling anxious
- Difficulty concentrating or feeling that your mind goes blank.
- Unable to let go of worry.
- Thoughts that life is not worth living.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder doesn’t just affect the mind, there are also a number of physical symptoms, including:
- Muscle aches
- Trembling or shaking
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach aches
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Pins and needles
It is important to note that anxiety is normal, but you should seek professional help if your worry is interfering with your work, relationships and daily life, if you feel depressed or have suicidal thoughts.