Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms can be widespread and debilitating, affecting people both mentally and physically. Not everyone who suffers from GAD will have the same symptoms or suffer to the same degree, but the most common symptom is excessive anxiety and unremitting worry which lasts for at least six months and is out of proportion to the events, circumstances or risk in a person’s life. The worry is also not specifically about certain problems in particular, rather it is a general worry about a variety of topics, events or activities. This may then result in excessive reassurance-seeking from others.

Psychological symptoms can include the following:

  • Constant worrying
  • Intrusive thoughts that make you anxious
  • Feeling unable to stop or control worrying
  • Feeling ‘on edge’
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Having feelings that something awful will happen
  • Imagining the ‘worst case scenario’ of situations
  • Feeling that you can’t cope with uncertainty
generalized anxiety disorder symptoms: an anxious man staring at the camera.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Physical symptoms can also include:

  • Tiredness and becoming easily fatigued
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea and stomach upsets
  • Sleep disturbance – difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Dizziness
  • A noticeably fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Pins and Needles
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling or shaking

The signs and symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder can change and fluctuate, sometimes you can have better days than others or find that certain situations, people or events increase your symptoms. It can be difficult to break the cycle of worrying and the fact that it’s difficult to pin down the exact cause can exacerbate your anxiety.

If you are regularly suffering from these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor to rule out other causes and establish a diagnosis of GAD as it’s a condition that while distressing, is easily treatable with therapy such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) medication and self-help. It’s a good idea to keep a record of how you are feeling and any mental or physical symptoms you may be experiencing, along with details of events, circumstances or situations which make you feel better or worse. This will not only help your doctor to carry out a thorough assessment but also enable them to judge how severely the condition is affecting your life. Untreated Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms can make it extremely difficult to carry out day-to-day activities and have a negative impact on work, family, relationships and social activities.

If your doctor does diagnose GAD, it can often immediately ease some of the anxiety to know that you’re not ‘going mad’ and there is a cause of the unpleasant physical and mental symptoms.

In trying to manage your symptoms, it’s useful to know what will improve them or make them worse. It’s known that caffeine mimics the symptoms of anxiety, so it’s advisable to reduce your caffeine intake or cut it out completely if you are suffering from GAD. Stress can also make the condition worse, so identifying what makes you stressed and looking at strategies to deal with it can help you become more in control of your symptoms. It’s a good idea to also avoid alcohol and recreational drugs as these too can increase anxiety and exacerbate worrying thoughts.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms can also be reduced or improved by taking relaxation, yoga or meditation classes, engaging in regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.

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