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Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) / Worry

What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a persistent “free floating” anxiety where the individual can worry about anything and everything. Though it is usual for most of us to worry some of the time, e.g. for a job interview, people suffering from GAD will experience chronic worry, that is difficult to interrupt and distract from and that they cannot turn off. The level of worry is out of proportion with the situation and interferes with the individual’s ability to do day-to-day things.

Worries can jump from one to another, with individuals predicting one disaster after another. People often have positive beliefs about the function of worry i.e. ‘worrying helps me to prepare for the worst’ and negative beliefs about the function of worry  i.e. ‘Worrying is driving me mad and is uncontrollable’. People with GAD also find it difficult to tolerate any degree of uncertainty.

Related physical symptoms for those experiencing symptoms of GAD include: insomnia, nausea, dizziness, sweating, headaches, Irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, aches and pains. Further consequences of continued worry can be difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, hopelessness, chronic anxiety, and depression. It can lead to reduced effectiveness at work, reduced daily enjoyment in living and difficulties in getting along with the important people in their lives.

How common is GAD?

It is estimated that about 1 in every 20 people experience significant generalised anxiety at some point in their lives.

Take the test – PHQ- 9


0-4 = no symptoms of anxiety

5-9 = mild

10-14 = moderate

15 + = severe

What is the treatment for GAD?

Guidelines produced by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), as the most effective psychological treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, with the longest duration of effect. A range of techniques that you can use to manage your anxiety more effectively will be recommended, including:

  • Challenging negative and positive beliefs about worry

  • Problem solving

  • Letting go and postponing worries

  • Learning how to accept uncertainty

  • Attention training

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