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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.
However, 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:
However, the information in this section is about a specific condition called generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
GAD is a long-
People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.
GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. These vary from person to person, but can include:
Read about the symptoms of GAD.
When to look for help?
Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, see a therapist if anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress.
A therapist will ask about your symptoms and your worries, fears and emotions to find out if you could have GAD.
What causes GAD?
The exact cause of GAD isn't fully understood, although it's likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include:
However, many people develop GAD for no apparent reason.
Who is 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 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:
There are also many things you can do yourself to help reduce your anxiety, such as:
With the right therapy, many people are able to control their anxiety levels and live more relaxed lives.