What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
by Ken Goodman, LCSW
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is best characterized by frequent or constant worry, anxiety, and tension, even when there is minimal or no cause. People who experience GAD find themselves unable to control their worry and often report being anxious most of their lives. The worry they experience is often related to events or activities like work, school, or family. With all of the excess anxiety, life becomes difficult to manage.
Completing daily tasks, multitasking, following directions, finding one’s way, participating in an event, arriving on time, and being able to focus can all be struggles when one has Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This disorder can materialize any time in life and is caused by genetics and/or stress.
Some of the symptoms associated with GAD are:
- Restlessness, feeling amped up or on edge
- Difficulty concentrating or mentally blanking out
- Muscle Tension
- Sleep Difficulties – trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or restless sleep
The primary feature of this disorder is worry, which can take several forms:
- Catastrophic thinking—turning a small stressor into a catastrophe
- Anticipatory anxiety—imagining the worst possible outcome or “what if…” thinking
- Mind reading—imagining what others are thinking (and it’s never good)
Excerpts from The Anxiety Solution Series, demonstrating the condition before and after treatment:
“I worried about everything… What if there’s an earthquake? Am I prepared? What if there’s an accident? What if I die?” — Instructional Aide
“I did not think that in this short amount of time that I would actually be feeling as good as I do and actually looking forward to life, instead of just making it through day by day.” — Instructional Aide