Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of anxiety conditions are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop slowly over time and, given we all experience some anxiety at various points in our lives, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Normal anxiety tends to be limited in time and connected with some stressful situation or event, such as a job interview. The type of anxiety experienced by people with an anxiety condition is more frequent or persistent, not always connected to an obvious challenge, and impacts on their quality of life and day-to-day functioning. While each anxiety condition has its own unique features, there are some common symptoms including:
- Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
- Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
- Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life
You may have GAD if the specific signs and symptoms are present for six months or more, and on more days than not. These include physical symptoms as well excessive worrying to the point that everyday activities like working, studying or socialising, become difficult.
People with GAD may have related disorders, most commonly depression, social phobia (characterised by avoidance of social situations) or other anxiety conditions. They may also misuse alcohol or drugs and may experience a range of physical health problems such as headaches or bowel complaints.
For six months or more, on more days than not, have you:
- felt very worried about a number of events or activities
- found it hard to stop worrying
- found that your anxiety made it difficult for you to do everyday activities (e.g. work, study, seeing friends and family)?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, have you also experienced three or more of the following:
- felt restless or on edge
- felt easily tired
- had difficulty concentrating
- felt irritable
- had muscle tension (e.g. sore jaw or back)
- had trouble sleeping (e.g. difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep)?
If you have answered yes, you may be experiencing generalised anxiety disorder.