Generalised Anxiety Disorder in Adults

What is it?

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can be described as excessive worry that is not necessarily focused on anything specific, but rather there is a general feeling of being on edge or feeling tense about a variety of things in life (e.g., finances, health, family, future, etc.).

The exaggerated worry is usually not provoked or triggered by a particular event or stressor, although the anxiety may be heightened by certain situations. That is what makes this anxiety disorder so tricky for people to deal with on their own because a person may believe they are just experiencing “normal” everyday concerns, yet somehow these worries seem to affect them more than the next person. When it comes to GAD, a person may feel like they cannot switch off the worrying thoughts. People with GAD often say things like: “I thought I was just a worrier”; “I worry about everything all the time”; “I often can’t sleep because the worries keep going around and around in my mind”; “my mind is constantly working through every possible scenario and preparing for all the negative outcomes.”

What are the signs and symptoms?

Aspects of GAD that distinguish it from regular everyday worries, are the symptoms that accompany the worry, and the intensity and frequency of the worry. People with GAD often experience:

  • a consistent feeling of threat,
  • racing thoughts,
  • fear of future consequences,
  • restlessness or irritability,
  • sleep issues,
  • and symptoms similar to panic including heart palpitations, dry mouth, sweating or hot flashes, trembling or tense muscles, and upset stomach (or butterflies in the stomach).

Having GAD feels like walking around with a brain that is always switched “ON” to analysing any possible threat there may be during every moment of the day and thinking of every possible consequence or solution to each of those threats. The problem though, is that most of the consequences do not happen and most of the solutions are not required. Therefore, the mind is constantly being over-used for things that will never occur.

How do we treat GAD?

Anxiety can be triggered by any number of thoughts, feelings and situations. As such, it is important that your psychologist gets a thorough understanding of what triggers your anxiety, and how this influences your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Together, you and your therapist can devise an individualised treatment plan using evidenced-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy, or Mindfulness Based CBT. The important part is that Anxiety House is able to work with you to deal with unhelpful thinking patterns and managing your worrying thoughts, strategies for coping and even challenging your anxiety, helping you stop avoiding and start engaging with your everyday world, and help you to get back on track to less worry and more living.

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Note: Our clinic is not a crisis service so please call Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call-back Service (1300 659 467) for support if you are feeling suicidal. In an emergency, please dial 000.

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