Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

What is GAD

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a broad diagnosis that covers a host of symptoms. It is characterised by excessive, uncontrollable, and persistent worry and anxiety about a variety of events and activities. People with GAD often find it difficult to control their worry, and may worry excessively about everyday things like work, school, relationships, and health, even when there is no apparent reason for concern.

Symptoms of GAD may include:
  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Tension
  • Nausea
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Sense of dread
  • Physical trembling
  • Lack of concentration
  • Muscle tension Headaches
  • Sweating 
What causes GAD?

Unlike an anxiety disorder such as a phobia or PTSD where there is generally an obvious cause, the origin of generalised anxiety disorder can stem from numerous factors such as;

  • Learnt behaviour from an elder or family member

  • Trauma, stress, and other environmental factors can increase the risk of developing GAD. For example, individuals who have experienced abuse, neglect, or other traumatic events may be more likely to develop the condition.

  • Certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, a tendency to worry, or a low tolerance for uncertainty, may increase the risk of developing GAD.

It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences these factors will develop GAD, and that the condition can develop in individuals with no obvious risk factors. In some cases, GAD may be triggered by a stressful life event, such as a relationship breakup, job loss, or financial difficulties.

Overcoming GAD

It is important to understand that anxiety is a normal emotion in certain circumstances and that we all face varying levels of anxiety throughout our lifetime.  However if you have been diagnosed with GAD, it is essential to look at potential causes or triggers that you can address to help you positively condition negative anxiety-causing schemas/beliefs.

Current life events

Your current life events will significantly affect your mood, so it’s a good idea to take note of the things that create negative feelings for you. If there are elements of your life that impact you negatively, create a plan to make positive changes. Write down the things you feel you need to change, the steps you will take to change them and start with one small step for each. 

Be aware that there are likely to be certain situations you’ll be able to change, some you may not be able to change right now, and some you may never be able to change. For the situations you cannot change, or cannot change right now, you can work on changing your perception of them. A more positive perspective will help to improve your feelings.


You may not be able to change how people behave towards you entirely, but you do have control over your environment. Improving your environment can help to improve your mood and as a consequence your health too.

Studies suggest that we become like the five people we spend the most time with: if you surround yourself with negative people, your conversation and mood will reflect that. Take a look at your social circle and endeavour to distance yourself from people who drag you down. Equally, spending more time with positive and fun friends will elevate your mood.

Diet and Exercise

If you eat well, you will feel well; if you eat poorly, you will feel poorly. Keeping a food diary over a two-week period will give you a clear indication of what you need to reduce or increase. In general, reducing caffeine, sugar, gluten, dairy and saturated fats, and increasing fresh fruit, vegetables and oily fish will have a positive impact on your health and state of mind.

Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is also a good way to improve your mental health and well-being. To keep your body working properly, you should drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day. Read more …

Exercise will maintain a healthy body, but it also stimulates the production of hormones that elevate our mood. Joining a gym or aerobics class is a great opportunity to meet new friends too.


Good quality sleep is essential for a healthy mind and body. Insufficient sleep can have a detrimental effect on your mood, and sleep deprivation increases anxiety levels. Take steps to aid a good night’s sleep such as exercising, avoiding a heavy meal, alcohol or caffeinated drinks from the early evening, keeping your bedroom screen-free, meditating before bed, listening to relaxing music, and writing down any niggles that are occupying your mind – if you find yourself dwelling on them while trying to sleep, remind yourself that you have written them down so they will be waiting for you in the morning. You might like to use My Bedtime Countdown.

Finally, reduce physical mess and organise your space at home and work. A cluttered environment contributes to a cluttered mind, while a clean, orderly environment will help your mood. 

Past life Events

Negative or traumatic past events often have the biggest impact on our feelings of anxiety.

For those suffering from GAD, there may be a number of past life events that need to be addressed. Writing a timeline could help you to identify the events and memories that need to be conditioned positively. Work through your timeline, one event at a time. Consider how each memory can be altered positively, even if only fractionally, so as to allow a new perspective.

Learned Behaviour

Accepting that your anxiety is a learned behaviour is a positive first step. It can be helpful to remind yourself that the feelings of anxiety do not belong to you. When your fight-or-flight response is triggered, look around you and reassure yourself that there are no dangers. Then say: ” thank you, but I don’t need protecting right now”. This acknowledgement of your innate response will dilute your anxious feelings and behaviours.


Living with Generalised Anxiety Disorder can be extremely challenging, however, you are not alone. Here at Trauma Research UK, our belief is, ‘it’s not what’s wrong with you, it’s what happened to you’. With this philosophy, we believe that everyone can successfully overcome their mental health issues if given the right help and support. Read more…

Trauma Research UK's Help & Support Programme

We will share with you the techniques and tools needed to change things around so you can start to live the life you deserve. This programme has been designed to be simple, effective and most importantly life-changing. Find out more…