Worry is a normal part of life, and a small amount of worry can even be helpful. For some people however, worry can be excessive, uncontrollable and can impact on their functioning. When excessive anxiety and worrying about multiple things occurs over a long period of time (at least 6 months), is uncontrollable, and is combined with some of the below symptoms, it is referred to as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (or GAD).
What are the signs of Generalised Anxiety Disorder?
The main characteristic of generalised anxiety is excessive and uncontrollable worrying about everyday things. People with generalised anxiety tend to think “what if” thoughts, such as “what if I fail?” or “what if I make a fool of myself?”. Some common things people with generalised anxiety might worry about are work or school, health and dying, money/finances, their safety, or the safety of family members. In addition to excessive worry, generalised anxiety can also be associated with:
- Sleep problems or feeling tired despite getting sufficient sleep
- Difficulty relaxing
- Becoming easily upset
- Headaches and muscle tension
- Nausea and/or stomach aches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Avoiding situations that are perceived as risky
- Putting off things such as paying bills or visiting a doctor
- Seeking reassurance from others
How is Generalised Anxiety Disorder treated?
Generalised anxiety and excessive worry can be effectively treated with the help of a psychologist. A proven treatment is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which focuses on how our thoughts, assumptions and beliefs, as well as our behaviours affect our mood and mental well-being. This therapy aims to help identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, and to learn to think and behave in more adaptive ways. In treating GAD, your psychologist will teach you strategies to manage and respond differently to your worries, improve your ability to tolerate uncertainty, and learn mindfulness and relaxation skills. CBT is a relatively short term therapy that takes 10-15 sessions, depending on severity and complexity of symptoms as well as the individual’s goals for treatment.
If you would like more information or to book an appointment with one of our clinical psychologists, contact us.