Generalised Anxiety Disorder

What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder?Caucasian lady hands on chin, concerned look

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves excessive worry, tension and anxiety that is difficult to control, has been present for longer than 6 months and concerns a number of events and activities (such as relationships, family, finances, work and health). 

What are the symptoms of GAD? 

A person with GAD can spend over half of their waking hours worrying. Their worries are not specific to one situation (e.g. social settings) and often involve the following themes:

  • Concerns about what might happen in the future
  • The desire to do things perfectly
  • The fear of failure
  • Fear of negative evaluation from others
  • Not being able to cope with daily responsibilities
  • Concerns about world events reported in the media

It becomes difficult to relax, control the worry and deal with uncertainty. The worry is out of proportion to what would usually be expected for the situation.


The person doesn’t always see their worries as excessive and unlikely to happen (e.g. worrying each day that their car will break down, even though the car is well maintained and has not broken down in the past).

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling restless
  • Tight muscles (e.g. shoulders, neck, head)

It is common to also experience other mental health problems like another anxiety disorder, depression or alcohol/substance abuse.

The person with GAD experiences significant distress or impairment in their ability to carry out daily activities such as household chores, driving, work and social or family commitments.

Last Updated : 28-Jan-2010