Generalized Anxiety Disorder : Understanding and Managing The Disorder


Anxiety attacks might happen from time to time, especially if your life is busy. Generalized anxiety disorder may be characterized by uncontrollable, excessive worry and anxiety that interfere with daily activities.

A generalized anxiety disorder can affect people of any age. Despite sharing certain symptoms with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other types of anxiety are all separate medical conditions.

Long-term management of generalized anxiety disorder might be challenging. It typically happens in conjunction with other anxiety or mood disorders. The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder frequently improve with counselling or medication. The adoption of relaxation techniques, coping mechanisms, and lifestyle changes can all be helpful.


Generalized anxiety disorder is likely caused by a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors, as is the case with many mental health illnesses. These causes may include:

  • Variations in the chemistry and function of the brain
  • Genetics
  • Various ways that risks are viewed
  • Personality and development

How to check if you have Anxiety Disorder?

While some anxiety is common, seek medical attention if:

  • You think that your excessive worry is having an impact on your relationships, work, and other areas of your life.
  • You have anxiety in addition to feeling down or irritated, having problems with alcohol or drugs, or having other mental health issues.
  • If you exhibit suicidal thoughts or actions; get rapid medical help.
  • Your fears might even worsen over time; they are unlikely to simply disappear on their own. Before your anxiety gets bad, try to get expert help; it might be simpler to address it then.

Risk Factors

Generalized anxiety disorder affects women somewhat more frequently than it does men. The likelihood of acquiring a generalized anxiety disorder could be impacted by the following factors:

Personality. A generalized anxiety disorder may be more likely to develop in people with timid, pessimistic, or risk-averse personality types than in those with other personality types.

Genetics. The disorder of generalized anxiety may run in families.

Experiences. People with a generalized anxiety disorder may have experienced major life changes in the past, had traumatic or unpleasant childhood experiences, or have recently experienced a traumatic or unpleasant occurrence. 

The risk may be exacerbated by ongoing medical conditions or other mental health issues.


Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder might vary. They may consist of:

  • Persistent fear or worry over a variety of things that is out of proportion to how the events have affected those things
  • Overanalyzing tactics and choices to take into consideration every worst-case scenario
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty 
  • Perceiving situations and occurrences as scary even when they are not
  • Fear of making the wrong choice and indecision
  • An incapacity to put a problem to rest or disregard it
  • Having trouble relaxing, being restless, and feeling tense or on edge
  • The inability to focus the sensation that your mind "goes blank"

Physical symptoms and indicators could be:

  • Fatigue issues 
  • Sleep issues
  • Either tension or pain in the muscles
  • Feeling shaky and jittery
  • Being uneasy or easily startled
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, or nausea
  • Irritability

There might be instances when your problems do not entirely overtake you, yet you nonetheless experience anxiety despite no obvious cause. For instance, you can experience acute worry about your safety or the safety of those close to you, or you might sense that something negative is about to occur.

You experience severe distress in social, professional, or other areas of your life as a result of your anxiety, concern, or physical symptoms. Concerns can alter as people get older and go from one to the next.

Children's and teenagers' symptoms

The same things that bother adults may also worry children and teens, however they may worry excessively about:

  • Performance in academic or athletic settings
  • Safety of the family
  • Being punctual (punctuality)
  • Earthquakes, nuclear conflict, or other disastrous occurrences
  • An infant or a teen who worries excessively
  • Excessively concerned with belonging
  • Aim for perfection
  • Performing chores again since the previous time was not flawless
  • Spending too much time on schoolwork
  • Lack of assurance
  • Strive for acceptance
  • Need to be assured repeatedly about their performance
  • Possess persistent stomachaches or another bodily ailment
  • Avoid social interactions or going to school.


Although it is impossible to know with certainty what may lead someone to acquire generalized anxiety disorder, there are steps you can do to lessen the severity of symptoms if you do:

Get assistance as soon as possible. As with many other mental health conditions, waiting to seek therapy may make it more challenging.

Publish a journal. You and your mental health practitioner can determine what is stressing you out and what seems to make you feel better by keeping track of your personal life.

Make your life's difficulties a priority. You may ease anxiety by properly managing your time and energy.

Avoid using drugs and alcohol. Utilizing nicotine or caffeine, along with alcohol and other drugs, can increase or worsen anxiety. Giving up any of these substances can be difficult if you are hooked on them 

Join a support group. If you are unable to stop using tobacco on your own, join a support group or treatment program, or visit your doctor.


The severity of how your capacity to operate in daily life is affected by a generalized anxiety disorder will determine how you will be treated. 

Psychotherapy and medication are the two basic therapies for generalised anxiety disorder. You could find that the two function best together. Finding the treatments that are most effective for you can need trial and error.


Psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy or psychological counselling, entails working with a therapist to lessen your symptoms of anxiety. The most successful type of psychotherapy for generalised anxiety disorder is cognitive behavioural therapy.

Cognitive behavioural therapy, which is typically a short-term treatment, focuses on teaching you particular techniques to directly control your fears and support you as you progressively resume the activities you avoided due to worry. By way of this procedure, once you build on your early achievement, your symptoms get better.


The following drugs, among others, are used to treat generalised anxiety disorder. Discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and side effects with your doctor.

Antidepressants. The first-line drug therapies are antidepressants, which include drugs in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) families. Antidepressants like escitalopram (Lexapro), duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), and paroxetine are examples of medications used to treat generalised anxiety disorder (Paxil, Pexeva). Your doctor may also recommend other antidepressants.

Buspirone. Buspirone is an anti-anxiety drug that may be continuously taken. It can take up to a few weeks for it to start working effectively, as is the case with the majority of antidepressants.

Benzodiazepines. In specific situations, your doctor can prescribe benzodiazepines to treat anxiety symptoms. These sedatives are frequently only temporarily used to alleviate severe anxiety. These drugs should not be used if you now have or ever had issues with alcohol or drug abuse because they have the potential to become habit-forming.

Complications of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It can be incapacitating to have a generalized anxiety disorder. It can:

  • Your inability to focus is affecting your capacity to complete activities swiftly and effectively.
  • Take your time, and put your attention elsewhere.
  • You lose energy.
  • The likelihood of becoming depressed
  • Other physical health issues can develop from or be made worse by a generalised anxiety disorder.
  • Digestive or intestinal issues, such as ulcers or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Chronic illness and discomfort
  • Issues with sleep and insomnia
  • Heart-related problems

The co-occurrence of generalized anxiety disorder with other mental health issues might make diagnosis and treatment more difficult. Generalized anxiety disorder frequently co-occurs with the following mental health conditions:

  • Phobias
  • Panic attack
  • Trauma-related stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Disorder of compulsive behaviour (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation or action
  • Substance abuse


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Page last reviewed: Mar 14, 2023

Next review due: Mar 14, 2025

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