Generalised Anxiety Disorder

What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder?

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves excessively worrying, feeling anxious and tense for longer than 6 months over a number of events and activities (such as work, finances, relationships, health) that are difficult to control.

GAD is sometimes known as general anxiety disorder.

What are the symptoms of GAD?

  • anxious womanA person with GAD persistently finds it difficult to relax and to control worry about a number of events much of the time, over many months. The physical symptoms experienced may include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension and irritability
  • A person with GAD may not always recognise that their worries or tension levels are excessive, nor that they are disproportionate to the actual likelihood of the worrisome/feared event occurring. For example, people with GAD may worry each day that their cars will break down, despite the fact that their cars are well maintained and have not broken down in the past
  • The worries may be related to a number of fears and concerns, usually about what might happen in the future; for example, worry about not being able to cope, performing well or about family well-being or world events. However, the worries are not confined to a specific situation (e.g. social settings), are not about the anticipation of a panic attack and are not obsessions (intrusive thoughts, images or impulses)
  • The worry and/or physical symptoms experienced by a person with GAD cause significant distress or impairment in ability to function in social, occupational or other important areas
  • A person with GAD may also be experiencing another anxiety disorder, depression or alcohol/substance abuse

Who gets GAD?

  • GAD often develops in childhood or adolescence, but may also begin in adulthood. It is common for GAD to begin after a stressful life event, although not everyone who experiences stressful events will develop GAD. Prior to developing GAD, it is common for a person to have had a tendency to be a worrier and to be overly concerned about how things will turn out and how they will cope
  • Besides stress and personality factors, other factors that may contribute to the development of GAD include biological (e.g. genes), social, environmental (e.g. parenting style) and cultural influences
  • GAD is experienced by 2.7% of Australian adults over a 12-month period (almost 3 in 100)
  • More women (3.5%) than men (2.0%) experience GAD
Page last updated 28-Jan-2010