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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Symptoms and Causes

You’ve probably heard of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) yet and maybe you asked yourself, what this means. It is normal for a human being to be afraid: Afraid of concrete situations, for example talking in front of a group, at a job interview, or on a date. Each person has different fears and under certain circumstances fear helps. Being afraid makes us more concentrated and focussed. You should be concerned when fear does not fit the situations anymore. In this article, you learn what GAD is.

How many people suffer from generalized anxiety disorder?

About 5 to 15 per cent of the population once in a lifetime suffers from a generalized anxiety disorder. Women more often than men. Sometimes different types of GAD can occur. GAD is often chronically. In this case, patients are permanently filled with their fears and concerns. This state of anxiety does not depend on specific things or situations, as you can tell by its name, it is generalized. So, it includes a lot of moments. Anxiety develops into an anxiety disorder. Thus, the disorder is extremely stressful. “I am afraid” is not just a sentence anymore, it turned into the only purpose in someone’s life. How anxious are you? Find it out through our test.

How does a generalized anxiety disorder feel?

As mentioned before, affected people are permanently anxious and concerned. Those thoughts and feelings are related to each part of daily life: work, family, friends, health, and money. Anxiety also occurs when there is no actual reason to worry. The life quality of people, suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder is limited. Imagine, all your thoughts are about your worries. Things of your daily routine, like grocery shopping would cause you a headache. The fear, that something terrible is going to happen is surrounding you.

What are the symptoms of GAD?

If you suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder, your symptoms last longer than six months. Your worries are overwhelming, so your fears and thoughts hold you back from living your life. Things, like going to work, concentrating, shopping, or meeting friends is almost impossible or impossible. They feel trapped and their state of anxiety is everywhere they go. “I am afraid”, is the dominant sentence in their thoughts. Many of the affected people also suffer from depression, social anxiety, or panic disorder. They often abuse substances like alcohol or drugs, to ease the grief. In addition to that, there are physical symptoms, like stomach-ache, heart problems or headache.

Risk factors of a generalized anxiety disorder

Women are affected more by an anxiety disorder than men. The disease could occur in any stage of life and at any age, including children and older people. When talking to anxiety patients you clearly see that they are not able to tell you the reason for their concerns. They worried a lot since ever. For grown-up GAD patients even small problems are a catastrophe. Children, suffering from GAD mostly show specific behaviour:

  • self-uncertainty
  • repeating chores over and over again
  • overmatch
  • perfectionism
  • self-esteem depends on their parents or teacher

A detailed text about the topic of anxiety disorder you can read in our encyclopaedia of psychology.

What is the treatment for GAD?

Besides the treatment with psychotropic drugs, there are different types of psychotherapy, you can choose from One option is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Within the therapy you question your scaring thoughts. You ask yourself if they are realistic and transform them into helpful ones. Other options are for example relaxation techniques and meditation, like autogenic training or biofeedback. People affected by an anxiety disorder are often afraid of getting therapeutically help. Therefore, online counselling is a good option.

In some situations, fear is the last thing you need, or you are completely overwhelmed by a situation. For such moments we have 5 tips for acute anxiety. You can print them, so that you can take it with you:

was tun bei angst tipps

Do not be afraid of your fear. Take it by the hand and go to a place, where you get help. Have faith, that someday you will look back and ask yourself, why you did not take this step earlier. The thought “I am afraid” and the feelings related to it will become just a shadow of your past. If you need help to deal with your anxiety, you can contact us anytime.


Photo credits: iStock.com/anyaberkut

Published on: 4. August 2020
Anxiety and phobias - Nicole Inez Fuchs