Worry or generalised anxiety

Do you… ?

  • Worry so much that it affects your daily life, including your work and how you get on with other people?
  • Find your worries stressful and upsetting?
  • Worry about all sorts of things and have a tendency to think the worst?
  • Find that your worrying is uncontrollable?


What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder?

People with Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) often experience anxiety, feel fearful, worry and are tense. Typically these feelings have been a problem most days for at least six months. If you experience GAD, you’ll know it is hard to get on top of your worries about every day matters such as work, money and family problems. You will even find yourself worrying about things that seem quite minor. You might also feel:

  • restlessness
  • unsettled
  • a sense of dread
  • constantly “on edge”
  • a lack of concentration, or that your mind going blank
  • irritable
  • impatient
  • easily distracted
  • physically tense
  • other physical symptoms like dizziness, palpitations and breathlessness

Sometimes you may start to avoid other people – even family and friends. It may also be impossible to get to work, so difficult and stressful that you end up taking time off sick. You can end up worrying even more about yourself, and your self-esteem and mood get really low.

How common is it?

GAD affects approximately 1 in 20 adults in Britain. Slightly more women are affected than men and the condition is most common in people in their 20s.

What can I do about it?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has recommended two main treatments for GAD; these are psychological therapy (Guided Self Help or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and medication. Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from one of these types of treatment or a combination of the two.


Low intensity options

We offer a number of guided self help interventions for managing GAD. These include:

  • Groups and workshops where you can learn strategies for managing anxiety
  • Guided Self Help, where a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner will guide you through CBT-based information and techniques or  an online programme on anxiety management
  • Books on prescription. Some people find that reading about anxiety can help. There are many books based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). These books can help you understand more about your psychological problems and learn ways of overcoming them by changing your thinking behaviour. To find out more about recommended books click here.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Individual CBT  for GAD specifically involves identifying worrying thoughts and looks at the way in which you manage uncertainty. Treatment can be offered in one-to-one sessions or in a group.

If you would like to know more about Guided Self Help or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, you can refer yourself to our service. Alternatively, you may wish to speak to your GP about a referral to our service.

How can I help myself?

If you would like to read more about how you can help yourself please click here

Useful self-help strategies for managing anxiety include:

Exercise: regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, will help you combat stress and release tension. It also encourages your brain to release the chemical serotonin, which can improve your mood. Aim to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Moderate exercise should make you feel slightly out of breath and tired. Going for a brisk walk is a good example.

Relaxation: as well as getting regular exercise, learning how to relax is important. You may find relaxation and breathing exercises helpful, or you may prefer activities such as yoga or pilates to help you unwind.

Diet: changing your diet may help ease your symptoms. Too much caffeine can make you more anxious than normal. This is because caffeine can disrupt your sleep and also speed up your heartbeat. If you are tired, you are less likely to be able to manage your anxious symptoms.

Smoking and drinking: cigarettes and alcohol have been shown to make feelings of anxiety worse. Drink alcohol in moderation and, if you smoke, try to give up. The NHS and your GP provide free support to people who would like to stop smoking.

Support groups for anxiety: these are also a good way to meet other people with similar experiences. Support groups often involve face-to-face meetings where you can talk about your difficulties and problems with other people. Many support groups also provide support and guidance over the phone or in writing. Ask your GP about local support groups for anxiety or search online.

Understanding your worry: some people find that reading about worry and anxiety can help. There are many books based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). These books can help you understand more about your psychological problems and learn ways of overcoming them by changing your thinking and behaviour. To find out more about recommended books click here.