Generalised Anxiety

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is experienced by 2.7% of Australian adults (approximately 3 in 100) over a 12-month period. GAD is more common in women (3.5%) than men (2.0%). GAD is characterised by excessive worrying, feeling anxious and tense for longer than 6 months over a number of events and activities (such as work, finances, relationships, health or minor matters). The worry and/or physical symptoms experienced may cause significant distress or impairment in ability to function in social, occupational or other important areas.

A person with GAD finds it difficult to relax and to control worry about a number of events much of the time, over many months. The physical symptoms experienced may include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irritability, difficulty concentrating and muscle tension

A person with GAD may not recognise that their worries or tension levels are excessive, or that they are disproportionate to the actual likelihood of the worrisome/feared event occurring. For example, people with GAD may worry each day that their boss is unhappy with their work, despite the fact that their boss has offered no negative feedback and continues to relate respectfully to them.

The worries may be related to a number of fears and concerns, usually about what might happen in the future; for example, worry about not being able to cope, performance, family well-being or world events. However, the worries are not confined to a specific situation (e.g. social settings), are not about the anticipation of a panic attack and are not obsessions (intrusive thoughts, images or impulses).

GAD frequently develops in childhood or adolescence, but may also begin in adulthood. It is not uncommon for GAD to begin after a stressful life event, although not everyone who experiences stressful events will develop GAD.

Factors that may contribute to the development of GAD include biology (e.g., genes), social, stress, personality, environmental (e.g., parenting style) and culture.

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