What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder?
A certain amount of worry is normal in everyday life, but when worry, tension, and anxiety becomes excessive, are experienced most of the time, and are present for more than 6 months; this may be the symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
With GAD, anxiety usually concerns several events and activities in a person’s life, such as relationships, family, finances, work and health. This anxiety and worry is not just tied to specific stressful events, but can be related to many aspects of daily life. The high levels of anxiety may be difficult to control and it can affect people’s ability to sleep, to relax or to do other everyday activities.
What are the symptoms of GAD?
Someone with GAD can spend over half of their waking hours worrying over various issues, rather than being concerned over a single situation (such as being in social settings).
Topics that may cause worry and anxiety include:
- Concerns about what might happen in the future
- The desire to do things perfectly
- The fear of failure
- Fear of being seen negatively by others
- Not coping with daily responsibilities
- Concerns about world events
When you’re experiencing GAD, you may find it difficult to relax, to control the worry and to deal with uncertainty.
You may also be significantly distressed and find it difficult to carry out daily activities, such as household chores, driving, work, and social or family commitments.
GAD can also mean you may experience some physical symptoms like:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling restless
- Tight muscles (e.g. shoulders, neck, head)
It’s common to also experience other mental health problems, like another anxiety disorder, depression or alcohol/substance abuse, when you have generalised anxiety.
Who gets GAD?
People of all ages can develop GAD. Children and teenagers can develop GAD, though it most commonly begins in adulthood. Every year, around 2.7% of Australian adults experience GAD, and generally more women than men are affected.
A lot of people who experience GAD say they were worriers before the disorder developed, with a tendency to worry too much about how things will turn out (for example, at school or in relationships) and how they will cope.
Treatment for GAD
There are effective treatments available for GAD. For most, psychological treatments are effective. In very severe cases this may also include medication taken under the guidance of a medical practitioner.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is an effective structured psychological treatment for GAD. CBT for GAD helps you to learn how to change any unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and behaviours that contribute to and maintain anxiety and worry. Techniques include ways of reducing worry through training in relaxation and problem solving.
Where can I receive treatment for GAD?
There are a number of ways you can access psychological treatment for GAD and you can choose a way that works best for you. This can be in-person with a mental health professional, or online with the support of a program.
By registering, you can access Mental Health Online’s free and comprehensive GAD assessment and treatment. You may like to do this by yourself in our self-guided option, but you can also opt for our free therapist-assisted program via email, chat, or video.
Explore other treatment options
For further information about treatment options and assistance: