WHAT IS IT?
Most people feel anxious and worried from time to time when faced with certain situations such as taking an exam, speaking in public or going for a job interview. At times, a certain level of anxiety can help people feel alert and focused.
People with GAD, however, feel anxious and worried most of the time, not just in times of exceptional stress, and these worries interfere with their normal lives. Their worries may relate to any aspect of everyday life, including work, health, family and/or financial issues, even if there’s no real reason to worry about them. Even minor matters, such as household chores, can become the focus of anxiety and lead to uncontrollable worries and a feeling that something terrible will happen.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS/SYMPTOMS?
A person may have GAD if the specific signs and symptoms are present for six months or more (and on more days than not). This includes excessive worrying to the point that everyday activities like working, studying or socialising, are hard to carry out.
People with GAD may have related disorders, most commonly depression, social phobia (characterised by avoidance of social situations) and panic disorder. They may also misuse alcohol or drugs and may experience a range of physical health problems such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome or heart disease.
If you believe that you or a loved one has GAD, please see your doctor. Do not self-diagnose.
HOW COMMON IS IT & WHO EXPERIENCES IT?
The condition appears to affect more women than men. It can occur at any time in life and is common in all age groups, including children and older people.
Many people with GAD are not able to identify the precise cause of their concerns but are aware that having a tendency to worry has existed for a long time, often describing themselves as having always been ‘a worrier’.
Worries often found in children with GAD typically revolve around school, sporting events, punctuality, natural disasters or war. Behaviours that sometimes accompany GAD include:
• Being over-conforming
• Being a perfectionist
• Being unsure of oneself
• Needing to re-do tasks
• Seeking regular and frequent approval and assurance from parents, teachers, siblings or friends
• Asking “Yes but, what if…?”
Adolescents who experience GAD have a tendency to see small problems as catastrophes. Despite some symptoms typically presenting in childhood, the disorder appears to develop more fully in adolescence.