Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects about 5% of the population.
The onset of GAD can be at a relatively early age, with one third of people with GAD experiencing onset in childhood or adolescence.
GAD is often chronic, but may have only a moderate impact on a person’s ability to function in daily life. Therefore GAD often remains undetected.
The main feature of GAD is excessive anxiety and worry, occurring more days than not for at least six months, about a number of events or activities such as those related to work or study performance, health, finances or family issues. The worries are often about a variety of minor issues and events that are unlikely to occur. Realistic anxiety, such as financial concerns after losing a job, are not signs of GAD, but consistent, excessive chronic worry about certain events that are unlikely to occur is cause for concern. The person finds it extremely difficult to control the worry. Generally, the worries are future oriented, i.e., about what might happen, rather than what is happening. An intolerance of uncertainty is common in people with GAD.
The anxiety and worry in GAD is accompanied by other physical and emotional symptoms such as: restlessness or feeling on edge; being easily fatigued; difficulty in concentrating or mind going blank; irritability; muscle tension; shallow, uneven breathing; and sleep disturbance. Other symptoms include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, feeling nauseous or sick, trembling and shaking and feeling as though you are going crazy and losing control. In some cases, people deal with the excessive, constant anxiety through the over use of alcohol, recreational or non-prescription drugs.
The following GAD Checklist describes common symptoms experienced by people with GAD, and includes a short questionaire which you can fill in and take with you when you see your health care professional.