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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

The thoughts are racing and unstoppable – something awful might happen. What would I do? What could I do? What can I do? ... What if?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves long-lasting exaggerated and unrealistic worry, mainly over things pertaining to the health and personal safety of our self and family members. It is often accompanied by general feelings of apprehension and being 'on-edge' for much of the time.

Having GAD is like being in a constant state of 'what if...?' We experience increased, persistent anxiety (seemingly for no apparent reason) and so live in a constant state of apprehension and fear over something bad happening.

Physically, we frequently feel 'on-edge' and 'jittery' and live in a state of increased tension. Our senses, heart rate and blood pressure are higher than normal. Over time this state of increased physiological arousal often leads to fatigue, lethargy and feeling generally 'run down' which can result in constant colds, flus and illness. After a while, being in a state of constant tension can cause numerous body aches and pains.

Mentally, the excessive feelings of anxiety result in constant worrying ("we are so anxious... why? What's going to happen? What can I do about it?") and we start to obsess uncontrollably about bad things that may happen.

This worry can be about many things: bad things that may happen in the future or may happen because of something we have done in the past. A common worry revolves around the greatest fear that almost everyone has deep down, that is the fear that something awful may happen to our loved ones.


Generalized anxiety disorder can be wholly explained by the natural role of anxiety which is a series of instinctual thoughts, feelings and behaviours that have evolved over time and serve to protect us from being hurt.

Anxiety protects us in two main ways:-

1. It prepares us physically to either fight or run away, the fight-or-flight response. This is responsible for the physical symptoms such as: fast heartbeat and breathing, trembling and shaking, sweating, nausea and difficulty swallowing.

"A state of uneasiness or tension caused by apprehension of possible misfortune, danger etc."

And to be anxious is to be "worried and tense"

(Collins English Dictionary)

Medical Definition of a Disorder:-

"an illness that disrupts normal physical or mental functions"


Anxiety Symptoms


Help for Anxiety Books

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More Resources:
Anxiety UK


Physical anxiety symptoms result from the body re-directing resources to the major muscle groups (legs / arms / chest) to provide them with an energy boost to prepare us for action (ultimately to fight or flee).

* Our breathing becomes more rapid to get more oxygen for these muscles into the blood.
* Our heartbeat speeds up to get the blood to the muscles quicker.
* Blood is diverted from the brain (making us light-headed and dizzy) and the stomach (causing 'butterflies').
* Energy cannot be wasted processing any half-digested food in our system so we need to get rid of it quickly - either through the mouth (feelings of nausea) or the other end (wanting to go to the toilet).
* Other 'energy-wasting ' systems (unnecessary in time of danger) are shut down eg. saliva production, giving us a dry mouth and difficulty swallowing.
* We sweat more to cool down all this energy production.
* The energy boost to the muscles makes them 'jumpy'/ 'jittery'/ 'jelly-like'/ on-edge ready for action.


2. It prepares us mentally. We start thinking about dangerous situations before we get to them – what might happen and the chance of getting hurt. It's better not to get into a dangerous situation in the first place and the apprehension and doubt we experience helps us to decide whether to face it or not. (See: Worry).


When looked at as a disorder or mental illness, GAD can be almost insurmountable. But when we look at it through the lens of human evolution and survival a very different picture emerges.

Not disease, disorder or mental illness, GAD involves natural survival instincts common to us all. Normal self-protective thoughts, feelings and behaviours that become over-sensitive, intensified and grossly exaggerated due to negative life experiences...

Life experiences that condition us to be afraid.

Help for GAD...
- Are you struggling with generalized anxiety disorder?
- Don't get trapped in a world of mental illness and medication...
- Learn the truth about GAD and how to cure it completely ›› More Details



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