Generalised Anxiety

What is Generalised Anxiety?


Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most common mental health conditions seen in Primary Care Services. When we experience GAD, we can feel consumed by excessive worry about many different things. 


Common symptoms of GAD include thoughts that may start with the words 'what if', followed by a worst-case scenario. Often when we experience GAD it is almost like we are attempting to predict the future, possibly to be prepared for such event, but unfortunately the prediction is of the worst-case scenario, which leaves us feeling anxious. Thinking is biased in GAD, we overestimate threat (something bad happening) and underestimate our ability to cope with the threat (the bad thing). 


Often a key feature in GAD is a fear of uncertainty (lack of control), we may dislike not knowing what the future holds and we may try to avoid uncertainty (lack of control) or employ strategies to gain certainty (control). 


Experiencing excessive worry with GAD can alter our behaviour, common behaviours can include:

  • Reassurance seeking
  • Checking behaviours
  • Avoidance of uncertain situations
  • Avoidance of doing things on impulse, instead opting to plan
  • Asking others to do things or to make decisions, rather than yourself
  • Procrastination (putting off doing things)
  • Distraction


Experiencing worry about many different things is overwhelming and not solely is the impact upon the mind, but also our body, GAD can result in: 

  • Exhaustion
  • Change in heart rate (palpitations)
  • Light-headedness (feeling dizzy)
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • IBS symptoms
  • Tension
  • Restlessness (inability to relax)

Impact on Functioning


As with all mental health conditions, for some people the condition impacts many areas of their lives and this is evident, this is something we can see, for example the impact can be on our:

  • Relationships
  • Routine daily activities
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Work/education
  • Social life

However, for some people we cannot evidently see their difficulties, they may be attending work, engaging socially, continuing their usual activities. In clinic we use a metaphor of a duck swimming on a pond. We can seem to be moving without effort, gliding through life, just like the duck on the water. However, while we may appear fine on appearance, we can be paddling very hard underwater, struggling where people cannot see. No matter the visible impact upon your daily functioning, we are here to support you to overcome the current difficulties you are experiencing.


Treatment Options for Generalised Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Eye Movement Densensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy


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