Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam or having a medical test or job interview.

Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal. However, people with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and often affect their daily life.
What is GAD?

GAD is a long-term condition which causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed.

Symptoms of GAD

GAD can cause both psychological and physical symptoms. These vary from person to person, but can include feeling irritable or worried and having trouble concentrating or sleeping.

The symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) often develop slowly. How severe they are varies from person to person. Some people have only one or two symptoms, while others have many more and these can be physical or psychological.

How anxiety can intensify

If you are anxious as a result of a phobia or because of panic disorder, you will usually know what the cause is. For example, if you have claustrophobia (a fear of enclosed spaces), you know that being confined in a small space will trigger your anxiety. However, if you have GAD, what you are feeling anxious about may not always be clear. Not knowing what triggers your anxiety can intensify your anxiety and you may start to worry that there will be no solution.

How common is GAD?

GAD affects about 1 in 20 adults. Slightly more women are affected than men, and the condition is most common in people in their 20s.

How is GAD treated?

If you have been diagnosed with GAD, you will usually be advised to try a psychological treatment before you are prescribed medication as studies have found that the benefits of psychological treatment last the longest, but no single treatment is best for everyone.

The main psychological treatment for GAD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and research suggests that around half of people who have CBT recover from GAD and many others get some benefit. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that you should have 12 to15 hour-long sessions of CBT over four months.