Anxiety Disorder

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by multiple and/or nonspecific worries. It interferes with the person’s ability to sleep, think or function in some other way.
From time to time when life is stressful, it’s normal to feel anxious, nervous and tense. Worries, doubts and fears are a normal part of life. However, severe, excessive and ongoing anxiety that interferes with day-to-day activities may be a sign of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by multiple and/or nonspecific worries. It interferes with the person’s ability to sleep, think or function in some other way.

It is possible for both adults and children to develop generalized anxiety disorder. Living with generalized anxiety disorder can be a long-term challenge. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder improves with psychotherapy. Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques can also help.

Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The exact cause of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is not fully known though a number of factors including genetics, brain chemistry and environmental stresses appear to contribute to its development.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder fluctuate. You may notice better and worse times of the day, or better and worse days in general. While stress doesn’t cause generalized anxiety disorder, it can make the symptoms worse.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects individuals differently but many people suffering with the condition experience a combination of emotional, behavioural and physical symptoms, such as:

  • Emotional symptoms
    • Constant worries running through your head
    • Feeling like your anxiety is uncontrollable and there is nothing you can do to stop the worrying
    • Intrusive thoughts about things that make you anxious and you try to avoid thinking about them but you can’t
    • An inability to tolerate uncertainty and the need to know what’s going to happen in the future
    • A pervasive feeling of apprehension or dread
  • Behavioural Symptoms
    • Inability to relax
    • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on things
    • Putting things off because you feel overwhelmed
    • Avoiding situations which make you anxious
  • Physical Symptoms
    • Feeling tense, having muscle tightness or body aches
    • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep because your mind won’t quit
    • Feeling edgy, restless or jumpy
    • Stomach problems, nausea and diarrhoea

Children and Teenagers

The similarities and differences in symptoms of anxiety in adults compared to children and adults depend on the specific condition that is causing the anxiety.

The symptoms tend to be consistent with how children and young adults express feelings in general.

Children are more likely to cry, have tantrums or become clingy and tend to develop illness in early childhood, with symptoms being persistent, coming and going into adulthood.

The symptoms in teenagers will more closely approximate those in adults.

Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Think Psychological Services employs a range of therapies to treat anxiety.  The most common methods include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Deep breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Meditation

The aim of therapy is to teach the child practical techniques on how to employ behavioural skills in combating anxiety.

CBT, for example, aims to help your child understand their behaviour and how to gain control.  During therapy, they will learn to:

  • Understand and gain control of  distorted views of life stressors, such as other people’s behaviour or life events
  • Recognise and replace panic-causing thoughts, decreasing the sense of helplessness
  • Manage stress and relax when symptoms occur
  • Avoid thinking that minor worries will develop into very bad problems

Think Psychological Services will also help your child work through the root cause of the anxiety, helping them understand why they feel a certain way, what triggers the anxiety and what they can do to stay healthy.

Anxiety Disorder