Everything you need to know
About Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a shared human emotion that anyone can suffer from, especially if something stressful is occurring to trigger feelings of worry. However, continuous and excessive anxiety that negatively impacts day-to-day life.

What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety is a shared human emotion that anyone can suffer from, especially if something stressful is occurring to trigger feelings of worry. However, continuous and excessive anxiety that negatively impacts day-to-day life may be a sign of Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder or GAD is a chronic anxiety neurosis that affects over 280 million people worldwide, and women are twice as likely to be affected. GAD is characterized by long-term, persistent, uncontrollable worry, and people with GAD might experience anxiety that may seem excessive to the intensity of a situation. GAD is diagnosed when a person struggles with anxiety for more than 50% of days over a six-month period and has at least three GAD symptoms present.

What are the symptoms of GAD?

Those who have chronic GAD may also have other mental health conditions in addition to GAD such as depression, OCD, or PTSD. For example, it is possible for someone to be diagnosed with both GAD and Depression, however GAD is separate and uniquely different from other neurosis conditions.

Those with Depression might experience intense worry on occasion, and those with a particular phobia might consistently experience fear over a certain person, situation, or thing. However, people with GAD will be consumed with anxiety over multiple concerns for months at a time, and they may even struggle to identify and name the source of their anxiety.

Because people with GAD tend to have increased brainwave activity within the amygdala, their ability to correctly interpret and process threats is limited. As a result, someone with severe GAD may find nearly everything to be terrifying and emotionally insurmountable.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder symptoms vary, and primary symptoms of GAD include:

  • Intense fear or worry about multiple situations that may seem excessive compared to the reality of the situation.
  • Worst-case scenario speculating and preparing.
  • Mental distress during times of uncertainty.
  • Paralysing indecisiveness or inability to make a decision.
  • Inability to take control of or let go of a worry.
  • Shaking, trembling, and overall struggling to sit still without twitching.
  • Digestive issues such as nausea, diarrhea, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
  • Dealing with worry, fear, or anxiety for no apparent reason.
  • Constantly feeling restless.
  • Unable to relax.
  • Extreme fatigue or exhaustion.
  • Insomnia.
  • Aches and pains.
  • General irritability.

How Does Generalised Anxiety Disorder Develop?

As with many mental health conditions, the health industry is still unraveling the complexity of GAD. While the exact cause has yet to be clearly identified, health researchers have determined that GAD is the result of a combination of biological, experiential, and psychological factors. While doctors tend to agree that biological factors are part of the cause, the greatest risk for developing GAD lies in environmental and social factors.

For example, childhood trauma, difficult past experiences with abuse, neglect, isolation, or the death of a loved one can trigger GAD. Additionally, extensive research has determined that worrying is often a learned behaviour. If a parent or caregiver exudes anxious coping mechanisms, a child might copy or adopt whatever stress management has been exemplified to them. In this way, children can be influenced to develop long-term anxiety disorders.

Other GAD causes include relational aspects. Research has shown that anxiety can develop in relationships where fear, intimidation, danger, or humiliation are present. Extreme changes in foundational relationships such as divorce or loss of a loved one can also trigger GAD.

Another likely cause researchers have identified has to do with social interactions, namely virtual social interactions. Psychologists and researchers have concluded that social media can have a powerfully negative impact on mental health and is a key factor in not only anxiety disorders but also depression.

Signs of Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Someone with severe Generalised Anxiety Disorder may not always be easy to spot. People with GAD tend to worry about most if not all of their social interactions, which means they are likely worried about what other people think of them. Especially at the workplace, it is common for someone struggling with anxiety to try and hide their worried behaviour. Those who are best able to identify when something is wrong are likely those closest to the person struggling with GAD, for example a spouse, partner, family member, or close friend.

Common signs that someone may be coping with GAD include:

  • They rarely if ever seem to truly relax.
  • They ask the same question repeatedly, even if slightly reworded.
  • They struggle to let things go, even if it has already been talked about.
  • Their emotional response to situations may seem to be generally outsized and excessive.
  • They worry about what others think of them or what others might do to them.
  • They are unable to concentrate and are easily distracted.
  • They are irritable or even angry often.
  • They tend to avoid social interactions to avoid feelings of worry and dread.
  • They have trouble saying no.
  • They have trouble making decisions.
  • They have trouble concentrating.
  • They might feel nauseated or have digestive issues at least three to four days a week.
  • They have stomach aches and headaches often.
  • They struggle to fall asleep and/or stay asleep and may have insomnia.
  • They might excessively sweat, have shortness of breath, or feel physically unwell at least 3-4 days a week.

The signs mentioned above can make life extremely difficult and unpleasant. GAD is a paralysing mental issue that can negatively impact someone’s overall quality of life and sense of wellbeing. If even three of the above signs have occurred consistently for six months or longer, chances are the person may have GAD. These manifestations can make day to day activity and general functioning extremely challenging. Just getting up and going to work becomes stressful, and seeing family and friends can become something they dread.

Because of how ostracizing and exhausting GAD can be GAD symptoms can become much worse if left untreated. Digestive issues can become IBS, Crohn’s Disease, or other digestive disorder, and lack of sleep and inability to relax can cause extreme hormonal imbalances and/or weight gain or weight loss. All of the symptoms of GAD can destroy someone’s confidence, self-esteem, and sense of wellbeing.

Why You Should Start to Understand Anxiety

Anxiety is part of the biological fight or flight response, and it is part of our collective human emotional experience. Even if you personally do not think that you struggle with anxiety, it is extremely likely that you will at some point experience anxiety. Either way, chances are that you are reading this because you know someone for whom anxiety is a daily reality. It is crucial to be able to identify anxiety and understand the effect anxiety has both on individual experiences and in relationships.

Anxiety is real and prevalent

Anxiety is all around us and is a part of the world we live in. According to the Mental Health Foundation in the UK, anxiety is the leading mental health issue in the UK, and many other countries claim similar statistics. Understanding anxiety makes employers more empathetic, government healthcare more helpful, and partners and family members more supportive.

You are not immune

While women are more likely to be diagnosed with GAD, anxiety can impact the mental wellbeing of anyone, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, or social status. Psychologists have determined that anxiety is a completely normal response to any number of psychologically distressing occurrences, especially major life changes. At some point in life, we will all experience some varying degree of intense anxiety.

Whether it be grief from the loss of a loved one, excitement from a job promotion, trauma from our past, stress from a divorce, or even concern over a Pandemic, chances are everyone will interact with anxiety at some point in their life. The ability to identify anxiety and know how to get help is the first step in getting treatment.

Anxiety can be paralysing

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, it is quite possible that the side effects are debilitating. Anxiety can have a profound impact on relationship health and work performance and make even daily, mundane tasks overwhelming. It is helpful for people to understand that anxiety is a justifiable and acceptable explanation for many situations. By understanding how anxiety can incapacitate, those who are sick can be encouraged to get help instead of being misunderstood and blamed for inadequacies.

Anxiety often goes untreated

Many global health organizations estimate that only around a third of individuals coping with an anxiety disorder are getting diagnosed and finding support. Unfortunately, this means that nearly two-thirds of people struggling with anxiety are not getting the treatment they need. There are many reasons for this, and one possible reason why treatment rates are low is because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Every time someone takes steps to understand anxiety and its impact, the stigma reduces, and communities are more likely to invest in mental health resources.

Anxiety acts like a booster to other ailments

Anxiety often pairs with other mental health disorders and can exacerbate psychological problems extensively. For example, GAD with Depression or Addiction makes the illnesses much more complex and difficult to manage.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder in the Workplace

Occupational work and managers are a major source of stress for many people. While anxiety is completely different than stress, stress can be the trigger that starts a pattern of behaviour that can lead to an anxiety disorder. The World Health Organization reported that mental illness accounted not only for individual suffering but also for an annual US$ 1 trillion in lost productivity globally. Because anxiety in the workplace is an issue felt at both the individual and economic level, it is especially important for corporations and workforce managers to understand GAD.

It is also important for employees who struggle with GAD to know and understand their rights. GAD and other severe, long-term anxiety orders can be considered a disability in some countries, for example the United States. Even if you prefer not to discuss your mental health diagnosis with your employer, understanding how anxiety can impact your work performance can help you negotiate supportive work accommodations such as alternating work and break schedules.

U.K. Employment Law
E.U. Employment Law
U.S. Employment Law

By understanding the impact of anxiety on the global workforce, corporate managers can improve corporate culture, reduce absenteeism, and lead more effectively.

Anxiety and Corporate Culture

An effective retention strategy is crucial to a company’s success. The statistics surrounding stress and anxiety in the workplace are extremely concerning. The American Institute of Stress emphatically claims that workplace stress and overtly demanding bosses are two of the most significant contributors to the global mental health crisis. Companies must become mental health aware and advocate for their employee’s wellbeing. Not surprisingly, companies who take responsibility for the health and wellness of their employees see a profound return on their investment.

Anxiety and Absenteeism

Studies from the Center for Workplace Mental Health have proven that there is a direct correlation between anxiety and sick days. By understanding and supporting employee’s mental health and wellness and providing effective coping mechanisms to combat stress and anxiety at the workplace, employees are way less likely to turn in work late and be absent from work. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic which reportedly caused a global surge of anxiety in all areas of life, companies must acknowledge the direct connection between anxiety and work performance. By demonstrating understanding and actively finding innovative ways to accommodate anxiety in the workforce, corporations can reduce absenteeism.

Anxiety and Leadership

The common phrase, “People quit their managers, not their companies” is not surprising considering the top reasons why people dislike their bosses all have to do with a lack of empathy. This means that the majority of work-related stress is not workload related but rather people related. Managers are the gate keepers of corporate culture. Therefore, leaders must manage responsibly with an anxiety-aware approach.

Treatment Approaches for GAD

The good news is that Generalised Anxiety Disorder is treatable. While some degree of anxiety from time to time is normal, anxiety disorders are curable, and there are many ways for those with GAD to find healing and relief. Depending on symptom severity, treatment options will vary.

The majority of mainstream anxiety treatment typically involves psychological care and medication, but talk therapy and medication do not always address the root problem. In my experience, talk therapy is like getting a massage. You might feel better in the moment and might feel temporary symptom relief, but the healing is short-lived. The next day, all the aches and pains have returned. In other cases, talk therapy can be very triggering for some people, and talking about their fears will only make them more anxious.

Besides the fact that pharmaceutical prescriptions can have serious side effects, medication does not address the root problem, only symptoms. Because pharmaceutical medication often creates as many problems as it claims to solve, people should research very carefully before taking any pharmaceutical anxiety medication.

Mainstream methods such as the aforementioned talk therapy and medication may not always work because both talk therapy and medication are based on conscious cognition engagement. However, anxiety and fear originate within the subconscious mind, therefore a solution that addresses the inner mind is needed.

The best treatment option for addressing the inner root problem of anxiety is an option that addresses the subconscious mind, for example the Serenity Method. The Serenity Method is based on the scientific fact that those with GAD have overly hyperactive brain waves in their Amygdala than those who do not have GAD. By breaking through the conscious level of understanding to the inner mind, people with GAD can heal from past trauma, recover from false and unhelpful fears, and reprogram their Amygdala to process fear more accurately. By addressing the root problem of anxiety, people can interact more positively with the world around them.

Self-Help

There are many self-help activities someone with GAD can practice in order to cope with their anxiety, meditation being the most affective. While it is not recommended to rely solely on self-help methods, practicing these top three self-help methods has been proven to be extremely beneficial in alleviating GAD symptoms.

  • Meditate – Meditation is extremely beneficial to counteracting anxiety, but because those with GAD may struggle to sit still, practicing guided meditations may be helpful.
  • Practice Active Relaxation – Practicing breathing exercises, visualization techniques, meditation, journaling, or yoga every day is proven to reduce the negative impact of anxiety.
  • Avoid nicotine and alcohol – Both smoking and drinking alcohol can severely worsen the effects of anxiety.
  • Anxiety Hacking - By far, the fasted way to fully recover from any anxiety disorder is to hack your unconscious mind. If you would like more information on ‘Anxiety Hacking’, then we have a FREE video training for you to watch. Just click on the link below.

Or alternatively you can purchase the Serenity Method online course which teaches you the ‘Anxiety Hacking’ method.

9 Ways to Find Relief from Anxiety

While most treatment options include psychological support or medicine, or a combination of the two of them, there are many other ways for those with GAD to find relief. Here are 10 ways to manage Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Don’t suffer alone

While some people may prefer to talk about their fears, talking about fears and anxieties can often be quite triggering and upsetting. When you are feeling down or anxious, simply find a trusted family or friend and ask them to just be there with you. Isolation only aggravates fear, so simply being in the presence of a friend can be comforting.

Practice Mindfulness

There are many cognitive practices to support the diffusing of anxiety. Breathing exercises and guided mediation can help focus wandering and fearful thoughts. Anxiety focuses on the what ifs of the hypothetical future, but mindfulness brings focus back to the present reality.

Respond to the question of WHAT IF

The question that seems to wreak the most havoc on an anxious mind is, “What if?” This is a dangerous hypothetical question which is neither productive nor useful. As much as many of us would like to think that our best planning and emotional preparation can influence our external reality, it can’t. The best way to counteract the triggering and upsetting “What if?” question is to challenge the question with other questions:

  • Why am I thinking this?
  • What was it that happened that made me think of this? Did it actually happen in my external environment or is this an internal fear inspired by my inner world of worry?
  • Is this thought useful?

These three questions can bring cognitive awareness to internal distress and immediately activate a more mindful psychological response.

Eat healthy

Some foods such as sugar and caffeine can make anxiety worse, whereas a healthy diet full of whole grains and healthy fats balances stress hormones. Additionally, researchers have claimed that those who consume excessive amounts of caffeine (more than 400 mg a day) were at greater risk of developing GAD than those who did not.

Exercise

Many studies have been done to prove the correlation between routine exercise and overall health and wellness. Exercise can become active meditation and is a great way to transform anxious energy into meaningful action. Not only is exercise a great mood booster but exercise has been clinically proven to reduce stress.

Laugh

There is a reason why people say that laughter is the best is the best medicine. Laughing is truly one of the best methods of reducing stress and fueling a relaxed state of mind. Laughing releases endorphins which regulate hormones and brain wave activity. Laughing is contagious because laughing is a way humans bond. When two or more people share a laugh, there is a sense of belonging and connectedness, and belonging is one of the very best antidepressants.

Set up boundaries

It is common for people who live with anxiety to also cope with one or more unhealthy relationships. Through a multitude of reasons, it is possible for someone to become dependent upon validation, or in other words, become stuck in a habit pattern of people pleasing. Those who struggle with people pleasing can feel excessively overwhelmed and anxious in many social situations. In this case, one of the best methods for managing anxiety is to establish and uphold clear boundaries.

One way to determine if you are in a relationship that is causing anxiety is to ask yourself if you feel safe or comfortable saying no to that person. If you do not feel like you could comfortably say no and have your no respected, then that indicates a relationship or situation where a boundary is needed.

Identify triggers

Sometimes just being able to name and label a fear takes away the fear’s power. While avoiding triggers is not always possible, the mindful practice of identifying “what” and processing “why” will be enough to empower you to navigate triggering situations with clarity instead of ambiguous fear.

Learn how to quickly calm yourself

When the mind becomes overwhelmed with anxious thoughts its ability to effectively problem solve is compromised. Hence it is imperative to find healthy ways to regulate emotions so that the ability to make a rational decision is possible. While breathing exercises are a great way to become grounded, the quickest way to return to a state of mindful being is to utilize all five senses.

For example, the next time you feel anxious or panicked, consider the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique:

  • 5. Sight – Identify 5 things you can currently see. (Tree, sky, store window, cell phone, your hands)
  • 4. Sound – Listen for 4 things you are hearing. (Your breath, your heart beat, a car, the wind)
  • 3. Smell – Name three things you are smelling. (Your perfume/cologne, coffee, fresh cut grass)
  • 2. Touch – Find two textures to touch. (Your hair, your coat)
  • 1. Taste – Name something you can taste. (Your toothpaste, your breath, etc.)

Remember

Those living with Generalised Anxiety Disorder should not be labeled as flawed. Many people cope with GAD and the stigma that surrounds mental health will not help those in need to get the support and help they deserve. Learn more about how to cope with Generalised Anxiety Disorder

9 Ways to Overcome Panic

Overcoming Generalised Anxiety Disorder is a struggle, but it is a struggle that can be won. While Generalised Anxiety Disorder can be a long-term challenge, symptoms can often improve greatly with treatment. However, even if anxiety does subside it is important to remember that anxiety is a natural human emotion. This means that whilst GAD is not necessarily permanent, it can reappear, even after a season of dormancy. To help anxiety dissipate, try one of these 9 ways to overcome GAD symptoms.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Anxiety can tighten our chest and muscles to the point that breathing is nearly impossible, which can cause panic to set in. An effective way to counteract this muscle tension is by practicing progressive muscle relaxation.

Meditation

When the average person thinks of meditation, they often think of sitting cross-legged on the floor, but mediation can be active. Those who cope with anxiety may have trouble sitting still so yoga or another form of movement therapy such as dance can also be meditative.

Art therapy

Repetitive gestures and contrasting colours and sounds have long since been used by psychologists to calm a distressed mind. By incorporating drawing, colouring, music, or dancing into your daily or weekly routine, you can support your mind and ward off worrying thoughts.

Avoid alcohol and nicotine

Alcohol and nicotine only make anxiety worse, and additionally, both can cause organ inflammation and compromise your immune system. Those who cope with an anxiety disorder may feel inclined to numb their nerves with alcohol or smoking, however this is a short-term remedy that in the end only makes the anxiety worse and damages the health of the body.

Medicine

While there are many pharmaceutical medicines a doctor might prescribe, these can have side effects that exacerbate your anxiety, so we prefer a much more holistic approach. These following supplements can be useful to keep your stress hormones balanced in the short-term.

  • Ashwagandha
  • Lemon balm
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Kava Kava tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Lavender and frankincense aromatherapy

Eat a healthy diet

Sugar, processed carbohydrates, and caffeine only feed anxious tendencies. Fill up on whole grains, legumes, fruits, and veggies and eat healthy fats such as salmon and raw nuts.

Get involved

Finding meaningful ways to get involved for the greater good is a great coping strategy. There are many meaningful reasons why people join causes, and one of them is simply because volunteering can be very therapeutic. Too often we feel removed from others, and participating in a give-back program banishes feelings of isolation and cultivates a sense of belonging.

Say no

Sometimes stepping up and getting involved is a solution. Other times, stepping back and establishing a boundary is the only way forward. If you live a high stress life with a calendar full of obligations, you may be overcommitted. Consider your life schedule, and if there is no room in your schedule to fit in time for mindful practices and internal rejuvenation, then you might need to say no to something.

Adopt a self-care regimen

Whether your version of self-care is going to a concert, getting a massage, or reading a book in peace and quiet, find something that brings you peace and joy and commit to making it part of your routine. Learn more: 25 Daily Self-Care Ideas.

Prevention

It may seem that in in today’s day and age there are a million factors that contribute to excessive anxiety. After all, isn’t everyone stressed and busy?

While it is true that many of us live in a culture that is often addicted to constant busy-ness, developing a Generalised Anxiety Disorder is not inevitable. If you had a difficult childhood, recently experienced a significant life change, or are working a very stressful job, there are many things you can do to prevent GAD.

It starts by eliminating stress and developing a lifestyle where you have time to participate in activities that you find relaxing. In order to set yourself up for success there must be margins in your schedule for relaxation and therapeutic experiences. If you look at your schedule and determine that stress is a threat to your health, choose quality over quantity. Identify the most important activities in your life, and cut back on everything else, especially those activities or relationships you do not find relaxing or fulfilling.

Become an expert in the way you interact with the world around you so that you can navigate life in a way that best supports your overall wellbeing. Choose at least two self-care practices such as meditation and exercise and fit them into your daily or weekly routine.

Prevention

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most prevalent mental health issues worldwide. It is characterised by long-term and consistent worrying that may seem excessive to a situation. GAD can be paralysing and there are a wide range of symptoms that include digestive issues, insomnia, shaking, and sweating. Someone with GAD may have trouble making decisions, and their ability to perform even seemingly simple tasks may be compromised.

Because anxiety is a natural emotion that everyone will experience to some degree in their lifetime, it is important for everyone to be aware of the impact anxiety can have on mental, physical, and relational health. It is also essential for companies to know how to adequately provide accommodation for employees who struggle with anxiety so that individuals do not unnecessarily suffer and for economic prosperity.

While Generalised Anxiety Disorder is a major issue for thousands of people, all anxiety disorders can be treated successfully with proper treatment.

If you would like to more information on how to combat and overcome your anxiety using our unique ‘Anxiety Hacking’ method, then we have a FREE video training for you to watch. Just click on the link below.
WATCH NOW – THE SERENITY METHOD

FAQ’s

Is GAD treatable?

Yes, GAD is absolutely treatable. The best treatment option is to tackle the issue where it initially manifests in other words at the unconscious level and that’s exactly what ‘Anxiety Hacking’ is designed to do. To find out more about ‘Anxiety Hacking’ click here.

What does GAD stand for?

Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Is GAD curable or will I have this forever?

GAD is characterized as a long-term illness, but it is very treatment. With the correct treatment full anxiety recovery is 100% achievable.

Should I tell my boss or coworkers I have anxiety?

People in the U.K., the United States, and most other countries are not legally obligated to mention any medical condition, mental or otherwise. There are pros and cons to opening up to your manager and colleagues about your personal struggles. Ultimately, the decision to share or not share is up to you, but if you decide to disclose your illness, it may be helpful to focus on how your anxiety may impact your ability to perform your job. If you feel that you would benefit from receiving accommodation from your employer, then you may consider requesting support from your company’s HR department. Learn more

Is GAD hereditary?

While studies have been done that suggest GAD is a learned behaviour there is not sufficient research to conclude that GAD can be genetically inherited.

Do I have GAD?

If you have been experiencing any of the GAD criteria mentioned above consistently for at least six months, have a history of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, or suspect that you may have some form of chronic generalised social phobia, you may have GAD Disorder and should take some action ASAP.

How do they diagnose GAD? Are there any lab tests or brain scans involved in the diagnosis?

Brain scans are not typically needed to diagnose GAD. Because underlying physical health problems such as Hypothyroidism, Sleep Apnea, Systemic Lupus, or Schizophrenia can cause anxiety symptoms, it is not uncommon for blood work to be done to rule out these possibilities. Typically, a doctor can diagnose a patient after one or two sessions of talking with them. The doctor will ask many questions in these sessions, specifically regarding any medications being taken as certain medications can cause symptoms of anxiety.

My friend/partner/family member just confided in me that they have been diagnosed with GAD. How should I talk with them? What should I say/not say?

Do not minimise or trivialise what they are feeling. It will only prevent them from confiding in you again. Take them seriously, but do not overreact. Often, someone with anxiety will express emotions that may seem excessive. Remain calm and focus on listening. Sometimes people coping with anxiety will calm down simply after talking about the distressing matter with someone. You may be tempted to help out and take on an anxious person’s problem as your own, but it is important that you do not take control.

Above all, do not judge them or say or do anything that would make them feel stigmatized. Chances are that they already feel completely helpless. Do not imply that they are broken or flawed. They simply have an illness, and we all have some type of illness. They simply need help, just like everyone needs help sometimes. The best thing you can do to support your friend/family member/partner is to be a non-judgmental sounding board for them and remind them that treatment options exist to help them.

It is not your responsibility to solve everyone else’s problems, but it is good to offer support by helping others help themselves whenever possible.

How do I know if my physical ailment (chest tightness, stomach pains, headaches, etc.) is anxiety based or if it is another medical issue?

Anxiety based chest pain is characterized by a sharp shooting pain central to the chest cavity or else a persistent general chest aching. Unusual twitching or spasms may accompany the discomfort, and you may experience difficulty breathing. Heart attack or lung disease cause an increase in heart rate and pain that radiates to other parts of your body beyond the chest, such as your arm or jaw. Heart attack signs also include fatigue, sweating, and confusion/loss of memory. Know the signs of a heart attack, and if you are exhibiting any of these signs, you should seek medical care urgently.