Generalised Anxiety Disorder is characterised by excessive anxiety and worry that is out of proportion in the social and cultural context. Excessive anxiety and worry are difficult to control and is experienced more days than not for at least six months. In adults, anxiety and worry are to be associated with three or more of the symptoms such as restlessness and feeling keyed up, getting easily fatigued, difficulty in focusing, irritability, muscle tension and sleep disturbance. Generalised Anxiety Disorder symptoms may include muscle tension, trembling, twitching, feeling shaky, muscle aches and soreness, somatic symptoms such as sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, and exaggerated startle response1.
Stressful life events play a causal role in the development of Generalised Anxiety Disorder’s central characteristics such as chronic anxious apprehension and perceptions of the world as a threatening place2,3. Intolerance of uncertainty and low perceived control are important facets of Generalised Anxiety Disorder 4. On the other hand, exposure to a single, potentially traumatizing event is one pathway to the development of Generalised Anxiety Disorder 3. Worry in Generalised Anxiety Disorder is used to prevent and/or prepare for unpleasant events, as well as to reduce the somatic arousal created by fear5. People with severe symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder have the need to gather a large amount of information before making a decision, even when the decision has little or no consequences6. They report a tendency to overthink situations7 and display adaptive decision making based on potential for punishment to avoid harm8.
Counselling and psychotherapy can help!9,10,11,12.
1: American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.), Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
2: Barlow, D. H. (1988). Anxiety and Its Disorders, New York: Guilford Press.
3: Beck, A. T., & Emery, G. (1985). Anxiety Disorders and Phobias: A Cognitive Perspective. New York: Basic Books
4: Dugas, M. J., Gagnon, F., Ladouceur, R., & Freeston, M. H. (1998). Generalized anxiety disorder: A preliminary test of a conceptual model. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36(2), 215-216.
5: Borkovec, T. D. (1994). The nature, functions, and origins of worry. In G.C.L. Davey & F. Tallis (Eds.), Worrying: Perspectives in theory, assessment, and treatment. England: John Wiley & Sons.
6: Tallis, F., Eysenck, M., & Mathews, A. (1991). Elevated evidence requirements and worry. Personality and Individual Differences, 12, 21-27.
7: Pawluk, E. J., & Koerner, N. (2013). A preliminary investigation of impulsivity in generalised anxiety disorder. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 732-737.
8: Mueller, E. M., Nguyen, J., Ray, W. J., & Borkovec, T.D. (2010). Future-oriented decision-making in generalised anxiety disorder is evince across different versions of Iowa Gambling Task. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 41, 165-171.
9: Borkovec, T. D., & Ruscio, A. M. (2001). Psychotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 62(11), 37-42.
10: Kehle, S. M. (2008). The effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for generalised anxiety disorder in a frontline service setting. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 37(3), 192-198.
11: Leichsenring, F., Leweke, F., Klein, S., & Steinert, C. (2015). The empirical status of psychodynamic psychotherapy - an update: Bambi’s alive and kicking. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 84(3), 129-148.
12: Timulak, L., McElvaney, J., Keogh, D., Martin, E., Clare, P., Chepukova, E., & Greenberg, L. S. (2017). Emotion-Focused Therapy for generalized anxiety disorder: An exploratory study. Psychotherapy, 54(4), 361-366.