2 MINUTES ON... Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
Byline: DR MIRIAM STOPPARD
What is it?
GAD is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious most days and struggle to remember the last time you felt relaxed.
As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another will replace it.
What are the symptoms?
GAD can cause psychological and physical symptoms, including feeling restless or worried, having trouble concentrating and sleeping, dizziness, heart palpitations and panic reactions.
What causes GAD?
The exact cause is not fully understood. It is likely that a combination of several factors play a role.
These would include overactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behaviour and the genes you inherit from your parents. Having a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as bullying, and having a painful long-term health condition, such as arthritis, may contribute.
But GAD can develop for no apparent reason.
GAD affects up to 5% of the population, with slightly more women than men diagnosed. It is more common in people between the ages of 35 to 59.
What's the treatment?
You should see your GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress. They may recommend:
Psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Medication, such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
There are also things you can do yourself, such as going on a selfhelp course, exercising regularly, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine.