About worry

We all worry from time to time. However, people with general anxiety disorder, worry more than would be expected, about a lot of issues and they find it hard to stop worrying. They have generally been feeling anxious and tense for over 6 months and may have worried for much of their lives. They worry about many events and activities in their lives (e.g. work, finances, family, relationships and health), often about concerns for the future, fear of failure or fear of criticism from others.

People with general anxiety disorder find it difficult to relax and stop worrying.
Typically they don’t see their worry as excessive or unrealistic. For example, they may worry about their children getting sick, even though they are healthy and they have seldom been sick before. Or they may worry about completing a work report well when they have consistently got good feedback from their manager.

Dealing with uncertainty can be rally hard for people with general anxiety disorder. It triggers catastrophic thinking, like “What if I can’t finish the report and I get fired!” Often a lot of time is spent trying to avoid uncertainty, which is usually not helpful since our lives are filled with uncertainty.

Physical symptoms

The worry and tension trigger physical symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, fatigue and restlessness. Muscles become tight and irritability is common.

A person with general anxiety disorder may also experience other types of mental illness, such as another type of anxiety (e.g. panic attacks), depression, or alcohol or drug abuse.

All of these symptoms cause considerable distress or they make it difficult to carry out daily activities at home, work or in social interactions.

Getting help

The good news is that assessment and general anxiety disorder treatment is available. Treatment targets specific general anxiety disorder symptoms. For example, people are taught to relax different muscle groups in their body to relax and reduce muscle tension. They learn strategies to control and stop their worrying and to learn to deal with uncertainty. These are examples of cognitive behaviour therapy, which targets the thoughts and behaviours that maintain the worry. This type of treatment can be effectively obtained via the internet, for example via Anxiety Online’s GAD Online program.

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