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Author: Dr Muffazal RawalaConsultant Adult Psychiatrist

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterised by extreme worry about many things including money, work, family life, social interactions and health concerns and is one of the most common anxiety disorders.


What is Generalised anxiety disorder?

Often there is no obvious cause for the anxiety and the individual may be aware that the severity of their worries and thoughts seems out of line with their actual external factors. This can make it even harder to understand and communicate to those around you.

Many people with GAD experience an escalation in their worries and thoughts over time.

What starts with a normal worry, for instance that you may not be offered a job interview, can intensify into a pattern of worries that can seem catastrophic; not getting the job means never being able to leave home, which means your parents can’t downsize and won’t be able to afford to retire – and it is all your fault.

Whilst, from the outside, these thought patterns can seem difficult to understand and some may even think they are silly, for those people with generalised anxiety disorders the fears are very real, overwhelming and at times, terrifying.

6%
Of people are thought to have GAD


Symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Symptoms

  1. Difficulty in relaxing, feeling the need to be constantly on the go
  2. Difficulty in concentrating, ‘zoning’ out of conversations, unable to attend to one task at a time
  3. Fatigue
  4. Headaches, stomach ache, muscle tension
  5. Breathlessness
  6. Nausea and sweating
  7. Disturbances to sleep, too little, too much, not being able to get to sleep or waking in the night

GAD symptoms may come and go; at times things can seem to be getting back on track but suddenly, and often with no discernible reason, bouts of huge worry and anxiety can be triggered.

The whole process was extremely efficient and professional. I very much felt that the patient came first.

Marcus, Sussex


What causes GAD?

It’s not clear why some people will develop a certain type of anxiety disorder or another.

  • It’s thought that those people with GAD find it harder to accurately interpret threats, so events that are harmless enough feel very risky, dangerous or threatening.
  • It’s also thought that those people with GAD find it hard to interpret social clues accurately, so they miss some of the subtle emotional clues that would otherwise bring them comfort or confidence. Instead, they may only see ‘part of the picture’ and this may make interactions with others more stressful or seem more risky.

Diagnosing Generalised Anxiety Disorder

It can be difficult to know whether an individual is suffering with GAD, another type of anxiety disorder or another condition such as depression because the symptoms can be similar.

When considering whether you have generalised anxiety disorder, a Psychiatrist will consider:

  • The intensity of worry
  • The increased frequency of periods of anxiety
  • The individual’s inability to control their worry

I see many people who have lived in hope that their anxiety is related to a trigger and with time will go away – sadly this is rarely the case. After a detailed assessment and commencement of treatment, they are able to recognise how different life is without constant anxiety.
MBBS, MSc, MRCPsych

Consultant Adult Psychiatrist
London

Dr Muffazal Rawala is an experienced NHS Consultant Psychiatrist, currently working for East London NHS Foundation Trust. He has a Medical Degree, a Masters in Transcultural Mental Health, has a postgraduate certificate in Psychopharmacology and is a...

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