Word on Health

Word on Anxiety

Our grateful thanks to Dave Smithson from Anxiety UK for his contribution to our on-air report (which you can hear together with a free audio relaxation programme on our ‘in profile’ page). To, access the free support material Dave mentioned click here to visit the Anxiety UK website. Anxiety UK also provide a helpline 03444 775 774. Thanks also to the NHS for the use of the support information below. 

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview.

During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.

But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.

Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including:

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than 1 specific event. 

People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed.

A soon as 1 anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.

Symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms.

These vary from person to person, but can include:

  • feeling restless or worried
  • having trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • dizziness or heart palpitations
  • When to get help for anxiety
  • Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, see a GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress.

Your GP will ask about your symptoms and your worries, fears and emotions to find out if you could have GAD.

Find out more about diagnosing GAD

The exact cause of GAD is not fully understood, although it's likely that a combination of several factors plays a role.

Research has suggested that these may include:

  • overactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behaviour
  • an imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in the control and regulation of mood
  • the genes you inherit from your parents – you're estimated to be 5 times more likely to develop GAD if you have a close relative with the condition
  • having a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse or bullying
  • having a painful long-term health condition, such as arthritis
  • having a history of drug or alcohol misuse

But many people develop GAD for no apparent reason.

Who's affected? GAD is a common condition, estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population.

Slightly more women are affected than men, and the condition is more common in people from the ages of 35 to 59.

How generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is treated GAD can have a significant effect on your daily life, but several different treatments are available that can ease your symptoms.

These include:

  • psychological therapies – you can get psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS; you do not need a referral from a GP and you can refer yourself for psychological therapies service in your area
  • medicine – such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

With treatment, many people are able to control their anxiety levels. But some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods when your symptoms worsen.

Self-help for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) There are also many things you can do yourself to help reduce your anxiety, such as: 

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.