Worry & Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worry about a range of aspects of daily life. Worry typically comes in the form of predicting worst case scenarios or “what if…” type thinking. Everyone worries sometimes, however, for people with GAD they feel worried or anxious most of the time. The particular themes of worry are wide reaching, but often include excessive worry about finances, safety of loved ones, health, peer relationships and work or academic performance. People with GAD often describe feeling as though their thoughts or worries are “out of control” and their “mind is racing”. It is common for these individuals to also worry about their worrying. GAD is associated with sleep difficulties, fatigue, muscle tension as well as a general dislike of uncertainty and need for control.

Symptom Checklist

  • Do you find yourself worrying excessively about a lot of different things?
  • Do you experience difficulty concentrating or irritability as a result of your worry?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping because of your worry e.g. taking a long time to ‘switch off’ to get to sleep or waking often?
  • Do you avoid anything because of your worries e.g. holidays, driving, making decisions?
  • Do you often think through many worse case scenarios to be prepared for negative outcomes?
  • Do you notice physical symptoms of anxiety when you worry, such as racing heart, sweating, upset stomachs, muscle tension including frequent headaches?

How Common is Generalized Anxiety?

Everyone worries sometimes but research indicates that around 6% of the general Australian population will suffer from GAD at some point in their lifetime. Generalized anxiety is more common in females, and it can occur at any age. When diagnosed in adulthood most individuals with GAD label themselves as having been a ‘worrier’ most of their life.

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