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General Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Symptoms, Causes, and Help.

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

A man comforting an anxious woman

You don't have to live with GAD, although it is a common and potentially debilitating condition, there are several treatments available that can help with this condition manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. What are the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a mental condition characterized by an excessive and continual sense of concern and unease regarding various events or tasks. Typical signs of GAD include sensing a lack of peace or being consistently tense, encountering challenges in maintaining focus, feeling easily worn out, struggling to deal with anxious emotions, undergoing irritability, muscular tension, and disturbances in sleep patterns. These indications have the potential to be disruptive and encroach upon everyday activities. If you suspect that you might be dealing with GAD. it would be helpful to talk to a mental health expert to get an accurate diagnosis and advice on the appropriate therapy. (Further details below)

How common is generalized anxiety disorder?

General anxiety disorder is a commonly occurring form of anxiety disorder. Statistics suggest approximately 3-4% of the population are dealing with it. Nonetheless, the precise numbers might fluctuate depending on the specific demographic studies. Certain studies have shown that more females than males are dealing with GAD. Furthermore, older people seem more susceptible to the condition. What could happen if I don't deal with generalized anxiety disorder?

If you GAD is left untreated, it can have a negative impact on your overall well-being. Without treatment, symptoms of GAD can remain or even get worse. This can lead to a decreased quality of life. It can also lead to other mental health conditions, such as depression. It's vital to seek treatment for generalized anxiety disorder so that your symptoms can be managed.

More about the symptoms of GAD.

Feeling anxious

Anxiety, a natural reaction to stress or dangerous circumstances, can actually serve as a constructive force, providing the impetus and concentration required to confront challenging situations. Yet, when anxiety crosses the threshold into an overwhelming and persistent state, it has the potential to disrupt day-to-day activities and the overall enjoyment of life."

Difficulty relaxing.

If the ability to relax seems to be posing a challenge, there are certain approaches you might consider thinking about. Among these is deep breathing—a method renowned for its capacity to instill tranquility in both mind and body. Check out this other post to find out about Deep Breathing.

Another solution to consider is progressive muscle relaxation—an exercise requiring the tensing and subsequent releasing of each muscle cluster in your body. This can work wonders in relieving tension and achieving peace. Additional strategies that could potentially help in attaining relaxation include meditation, self-hypnosis, mindfulness practices, and even seeking peace listening to tranquil music. It's vital to weigh up and attend to any significant triggers that may be preventing you from unwinding—be it stress or other matters relating to mental well-being."

Inability to concentrate.

If you are having difficulty concentrating, there are a things you can try. Firstly, make sure that you are in a comfortable, quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Next, try to get rid of any sources of stress or anxiety that might be causing your inability to concentrate. For instance, you might want to take a break from work or other jobs and do some relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation.


Indecisiveness means struggling with a challenge of reaching a decision or coming across obstacles when attempting to do so.

This is a shared obstacle that rises above age and background. The experience of indecisiveness can be exasperating and may bring emotions of unease, tension, and a diminished sense of self-worth.

Many factors can contribute to one's tendency for indecisiveness. These include the worry of making a wrong choice, an insufficiency of relevant information or awareness, and the struggle to effectively prioritize different options. Beating indecisiveness requires an understanding of its root cause and the implementation of measures to address it.

Let's say, if worrying about what others think is what's making it hard for you to decide, a helpful way to look at it is to understand that making a perfect choice all the time isn't possible. Thinking that any choice is better than none can be a good way to see it. If not having enough information or knowledge is what's causing the problem, you can try getting more facts or asking others for advice. And if figuring out which option is best is tough, you can try methods like carefully comparing the good and bad points of each choice or using a decision-making plan like a list to help you make a step in the right direction."


Sleep disorders such as Insomnia are a common symptom of GAD, as chronic worrying can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. People with Insomnia may also experience symptoms such as restlessness, fatigue, exhaustion difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance.

Can I get help for General Anxiety Disorder on the NHS?

Certainly, you can get help for GAD through the NHS. This is a common issue that healthcare professionals in the NHS can help patients with. The treatment usually involves a combination of medicine and talking therapy, such as discussing about how you think and feel. If you feel like you might have this issue, maybe to talk to your doctor. They can listen and suggest what might help you. owever, because of Covid-19, it might take a bit longer to see doctors and get help

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for GAD

A diagram explaining GAD

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a kind of talking therapy. It's job is to help patients change their negative thoughts and actions into positive ones. The idea is that our thoughts interfere with our feelings and actions. By changing our thoughts, we can start to feel better.

In CBT, you talk with a therapist who helps you work out thoughts that make you feel bad. Then, they show you ways to change those thoughts. Sometimes, you try new things during your sessions with the therapist and also practice outside of them. CBT wants to help you learn to think and act in more positive and real ways. This can make you feel better mentally and emotionally. It's effective at dealing with issues such as feeling sad or worried or such as when you have anxiety or depression.

Do I need to see a therapist to get CBT?

While it is not entirely necessary to see a therapist in order to get CBT, it is generally recommended to seek the help of a trained therapist for, as they can provide guidance and support throughout the process.

Can I get CBT online?

Yes, you can get CBT online. More and more therapists now conduct sessions online using video calls such as Zoom. This can be convenient and effective especially if you don't have the time to travel to a therapist or there isn't one in your locality. Still, it's important to pick a qualified CBT therapist who is used to working with patients online That way, you'll get good help and make the most of your CBT sessions.

Can I learn CBT from a book?

While it is possible to learn about CBT from a book, it is not advisable to practice without professional guidance. CBT is a complex form of therapy that needs a certain level of training and expertise to be performed correctly. Books may offer some basic understanding of the process of CBT but can't give the guidance that a professional can offer.

Can I use Self-Hypnosis for Generalised Anxiety Disorder?

Sharon Shinwell Clinical Hypnotherapist

Clinical hypnosis is not the same as the hypnosis you’ve seen on a stage or in movies.

Clinical Hypnotherapy has been proven to be an effective treatment for GAD especially in combination with other treatments like CBT as mentioned above.

As a clinical hypnotherapist with over 20 years experience in helping people with anxiety issues, I have now retired from seeing clients face-to-face. However, I continue to help people through my downloadable pre-recorded hypnotherapy sessions. Take a look at my session for General Anxiety disorder

"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."


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