Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

generalised anxiety disorder

What is it?

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can be defined as a disorder in which the sufferer feels in a constant state of high anxiety and is often known as ‘chronic worrying’ or a ‘free floating’ anxiety condition.

People who suffer with GAD often describe themselves as suffering with ‘free floating anxiety’ which can be likened to the ‘whack the crocodile’ game at an arcade – they resolve one issue but no sooner has this been done when another worry pops up. Racing thoughts, loss of concentration, and an inability to focus are also characteristic of GAD.

We all suffer with worry from time to time, but the thing that makes GAD different from “normal worry” is that the worry is prolonged (it lasts for over 6 months), and the level of worry is out of proportion to the risk. For example, if a partner is an hour late from work (without calling) a GAD sufferer may think ‘they must have had an accident’, rather than any other just as likely scenario, e.g. ‘they have been delayed in traffic’ or ‘they have popped to the pub with a colleague’. These thoughts can be described as ‘catastrophising,’ or jumping to the worst possible conclusion.

GAD is a particularly difficult disorder to live with as it is constantly on the sufferer”s mind – there is no respite as the anxiety is not tied to a specific situation or event. It can cause problems with sleep, ability to maintain a job as well as impact close relationships.

GAD fact sheet and booklet

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD): an Anxiety UK guide (instant download)

    This booklet covers everything you will need to know about Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Developed in conjunction with Anxiety UK members with GAD, this booklet is packed full of personal experiences and information. Chapters include: The cycle of anxiety Fight or Flight response Types of worry Challenging negative beliefs Coping strategies Treatment of GAD Once you...

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DIY self diagnosis

If you can answer YES to most of the questions it is likely that you are affected by GAD.

During the past 6 months:-

  • Do you feel that you have been nervous/on edge most days over the past 6 months?
  • Did you have problems falling asleep
  • Did you feel tension in your muscles because of feeling on edge?
  • Did you frequently feel tense and irritable?

Anxiety UK strongly advises that people seek further information and guidance from their GP who will be able to make a formal diagnosis.

How we can help

Anxiety UK is a user-led charity with more than forty years experience in supporting those living with anxiety. By becoming a member of Anxiety UK, you will have access to a range of benefits, including:

  • Access to reduced cost therapy within two weeks of submitting your therapy request
  • Free access to Headspace, worth £95
  • Access to our infoline, email, text and live chat services (available Monday-Friday, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm) staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety
  • Receipt of four issues of Anxious Times, our quarterly members” magazine
  • Access to the members only section of our website, featuring regular support surgeries facilitated by anxiety experts
  • Access to specialist helplines, including the psychiatric pharmacy helpline and the psychology information helpline

And many, many other benefits that will help you manage your anxiety long term. To become a member of Anxiety UK click here or ring 08444 775 774 today.

Want to know more?

The Anxiety UK site has information on a range of resources to provide more detailed information and help.

Recommended reading

Overcoming Worry

Overcoming Worry is available in the Anxiety UK shop for a more detailed overview of GAD and techniques for overcoming it. Click here to purchase a copy of Overcoming Worry or Click here to purchase other Anxiety UK products on GAD.

gad booklet

Pfizer pharmaceuticals have sponsored the production of a booklet on GAD that is available from our resource centre here.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced a guide to self help resources for people living with GAD. You can download it here.

Anxiety UK relies on donations to keep its services running. If you found this information useful please make a donation – no amount is too small.


Personal experience

Do you suffer from GAD and want to share your experience with other people? Post your personal experience in the comments box below where it will be sent to our moderator for approval. Many people find this part of the site very useful when trying to understand their disorder so your comments really do make a difference. Please note, all comments submitted to the Anxiety UK website may be used by Anxiety UK for (but not limited to) publicity and promotional material.