Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalised anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder 320 240 Paterakis Michalis
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Generalized anxiety disorder: the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can be read a little further down, as well as you can watch the video on defense mechanisms to understand even better how more tension is created in the psyche and how the symptoms appear. But before we look at these things, it’s good to make a basic distinction.

So there are two types of anxiety. The real one and the neurotic one. The real one has to do with external conditions and the neurotic one has to do with our internal conditions. Real anxiety arises when, for example, one is afraid of losing one’s job while neurotic anxiety is anxiety that while we experience it, we cannot understand where it comes from. Let us now look at the symptoms and below we will talk a little more about neurotic anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder

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Generalized anxiety disorder Psychotherapy and Counselling

Diagnostic Criteria of Generalised Anxiety Disorder

1. Excessive anxiety and worry (fearful anticipation) occurring most days of a period of at least 6 months, about a range of events or activities (such as work and school performance)

2. The person feels that it is difficult to control their anxiety

3. Anxiety and worry are associated with three or more of the following symptoms:

– Nervousness or feelings of anxiety or tense nerves

– Ease of feeling anxious or anxiety or feelings of tension or anxiety or nervousness

– Difficulty concentrating or feeling like the mind is going blank

– Easiness

– muscle tension

– Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless unsatisfactory sleep.

4. Anxiety, worry or somatic symptoms cause clinically significant discomfort or impairment of social, occupational or other important areas of functioning

5. The disorder is not due to the direct physiological actions of a substance (e.g., substance of abuse, medication) or a general physical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism) and does not occur exclusively during a pervasive developmental disorder.

Generalised anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder


Neurotic anxiety

Neurotic anxiety is anxiety that has no specific reason for being. The person has anxiety that they cannot understand. This is because this anxiety has unconscious roots. That is, we do not know its roots. But how is it possible that something we have within us is not known? It is because all those things that disturb us and frighten us a lot when we are children, we push them away. Then they appear in adulthood in the form of symptoms. If they are too repressed, if the defenses we put up to stop them are too strong, then the stronger the symptoms are.


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Generalized anxiety disorder


Psychotherapy for anxiety

In psychotherapy we examine the individual person individually. Individually. Personally. We try to understand the personality structure, defenses and unconscious conflicts. The traumas and emotional investments. We see the relationship she’s developing with me and we talk about it. We don’t hide it. We see it. We talk about it. We don’t push it away. But not right away.

When the person is ready. Even if the defenses are many, there are many helpful ways through which we can approach problems. The anxieties are well hidden in the person themselves but when the defenses subside life becomes more enjoyable. So on the one hand it is difficult to treat, but on the other hand and on a parallel level, it is comforting. So it’s worth it. See also the video about psychotherapy. You may find it more helpful. Some people learn best with imagery and some people learn best with the written word.

Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder


All the feelings we hide do not die, Freud said. They remain alive and come back later with more power. When this happens, symptoms appear. And they strike in different ways. The psyche has mechanisms to fend off tensions but when these mechanisms are forced to hide very important human feelings, they essentially stop serving the human being and become very oppressive. Tensions in adulthood are reduced when they are realized. Otherwise they are constantly in high tension. A generalized anxiety disorder, does not appear out of nowhere.

Every phenomenon in the psyche has a cause. We just don’t see it. Our people may see it, but we don’t see it. So we’re not aware of what’s happening to us. Seemingly this is a paradox but when we look at what has happened then we understand that everything makes sense. Even if someone tells us the cause, we are not cured. That’s why healing is not understanding with our logic. Anyone can do that. It is the emotional experience behind our consciousness that will be gradually repeated in healing that needs to be remedied. This is what happens in real therapy. This is how one stops repeating the same symptom, the same behaviour. That’s how one stops causing the same problems to always happen.

So healing is not logical understanding but emotional experience. I have a patient who says to me, “I don’t know exactly what is going on, nor do I always find logic in what we say here, but my problems are solved.” This man has a good course because he lives in the therapy his problem and he makes up for it. He doesn’t need to know how just like the child doesn’t know how. He just lives and feels; therapy is the repetition of childhood. A repetition in which we make amends continually and constantly.

Generalized anxiety disorder

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Generalized anxiety disorder


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a widespread and debilitating mental health issue that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterised by excessive, uncontrollable worry about everyday situations, and can have a significant impact on a person’s personal, social and professional life.

While the exact etiology of this disorder remains unclear, research has identified several genetic, environmental and psychological factors that contribute to its development. With the increasing recognition of anxiety disorders in recent years, understanding the symptoms of GAD has become critical for both clinicians and those affected by it.

The multifaceted nature of generalized anxiety disorder requires comprehensive investigation to facilitate diagnosis, treatment approaches, and overall understanding. This article aims to provide readers with a comprehensive overview of GAD – from its diagnostic criteria and potential causes to effective management strategies and coping mechanisms.

By combining current research findings with knowledge in this area, the following article seeks not only to enlighten but also to empower those struggling with or experiencing generalized anxiety in their lives.

Understanding the Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common mental health condition characterized by persistent and excessive worry about various aspects of daily life. These worries can include performance at work or school, personal relationships, finances and overall well-being. People with GAD often experience difficulties in controlling their anxiety and find that it significantly interferes with their daily functioning.

This pervasive sense of anxiety can lead to physical symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbances and concentration difficulties. Although the exact etiology of GAD remains unclear, research suggests that it results from a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, psychological and developmental factors. Studies have identified potential risk factors for developing generalised anxiety disorder, including a family history of anxiety disorders or other mental health conditions, exposure to chronic stressors during childhood or adolescence, adverse experiences such as trauma or abuse, personality traits associated with negative emotionality, along with neurobiological abnormalities related to neurotransmitter systems such as serotonin and norepinephrine that regulate mood states.

Effective treatments for GAD typically include therapeutic approaches such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), pharmacological interventions using medications that target these neurotransmitter systems, or a combination of both to reduce the severity of symptoms while improving the overall quality of life of affected individuals. In addition, lifestyle modifications, support groups and stress management techniques can also be incorporated into the treatment plan to further enhance the individual’s ability to cope with the condition and promote long-term recovery and well-being.

Common triggers

In further exploring the complexity of generalised anxiety disorder, it is important to identify common triggers that may exacerbate or trigger symptoms. These triggers are not necessarily universal, as individuals with this condition may experience a variety of situational and stressors that can cause anxiety. However, identifying potential triggers allows for a more comprehensive understanding of generalized anxiety disorder and lays the foundation for developing effective coping strategies.

Several circumstances may contribute to increased feelings of anxiety among those with generalized anxiety disorder. Common examples include work stress, interpersonal conflicts in relationships or families, financial concerns, health issues, and major life changes such as moving or starting a new job.

In addition, exposure to traumatic events could potentially heighten anxious thoughts and feelings. By recognizing these predominant triggers in the individual’s environment and daily experiences, individuals struggling with generalized anxiety disorder will be better equipped to manage their symptoms effectively while striving to improve mental well-being.

Distinction from Phobic Disorders

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and phobic disorders both fall within the spectrum of anxiety-related conditions. However, they present distinct characteristics that set them apart.

While GAD is characterised by a pervasive sense of worry or anxiety about various aspects of life, phobic disorders involve an intense fear focused on specific objects, situations or experiences. This distinction between generalised and specific fears plays a key role in understanding the differences between these two types of anxiety disorders.

The key feature that differentiates GAD and phobic disorders lies in their respective symptomatology and their impact on daily functioning.

People with GAD often show excessive anxiety in many areas such as work, relationships, health or financial matters without any particular trigger. This constant state of worry can lead to physical symptoms such as fatigue and muscle tension while causing significant discomfort to the individual.

In contrast, those with phobic disorders experience extreme fear when confronted with a specific stimulus that may lead to avoidance behaviour – for example, avoiding social events due to social phobia or flying due to aerophobia.

Although both conditions are debilitating in their own ways, it is important to recognize these distinctions in order to provide appropriate treatment options tailored to each unique situation.

Key Features

GAD is characterized by persistent, excessive and uncontrollable anxiety that interferes with daily life.

Individuals struggling with this mental health condition often find themselves trapped in a cycle of worrying thoughts and physical symptoms such as muscle tension, insomnia, irritability, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

The impact of these key features on a person’s quality of life cannot be underestimated.

The constant state of anxiety experienced by those experiencing GAD can create significant barriers to personal relationships and work performance.

In addition, it can lead to further complications when left untreated or undertreated.

Research shows that people with GAD have higher rates of comorbidity of depression and substance use disorders than the general population.

It is vital for both healthcare providers and society in general to recognise the debilitating nature of this disorder so that appropriate support systems can be put in place for those affected.

Durability and perseverance

Having explored the key features of generalised anxiety disorder, it is important to delve into another important aspect: duration and persistence. A full understanding of the length of time that GAD symptoms last and their chronic nature can be vital in devising appropriate treatment plans and managing this often debilitating condition.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states that excessive worry must persist for at least six months to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of GAD. However, many individuals may experience these symptoms for years before seeking professional help.

In fact, research shows that GAD tends to have a chronic course with the severity of symptoms fluctuating over time. The persistent nature of excessive anxiety can cause significant distress and impair daily functioning – underscoring the importance of early detection and intervention strategies tailored to the needs of each individual.

Natural Events

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized not only by persistent and excessive worry, but also by various physical symptoms that can significantly affect a person’s daily life. These manifestations are often associated with the activation of the body’s stress response system, specifically the autonomic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The subsequent physiological changes serve as adaptive mechanisms to cope with perceived threats or stressors. However, in individuals with GAD, such responses become maladaptive due to their chronic and disproportionate nature.

Among the most common physical symptoms experienced by those with GAD are muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbances and sleep disturbances.

Muscle tension can manifest as pains in different parts of the body or even lead to habitual behaviours such as teeth grinding or nail biting.

Headaches, usually described as tension-type headaches, occur due to prolonged muscle strain or vascular contraction caused by stress.

Fatigue may be due to both poor sleep quality and increased energy expenditure due to increased levels of arousal during waking hours.

In addition, gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, indigestion, diarrhoea or constipation have been linked to changes in bowel motility and secretion resulting from stress-induced dysregulation of brain-gut interactions.

Sleep disorders include difficulty sleeping (insomnia), frequent awakenings throughout the night accompanied by thoughts or worries about future events (hypersomnia) and nightmares associated with disturbing fears that characterise GAD.

By understanding these physical manifestations of generalized anxiety disorder alongside its psychological components, clinicians can better tailor treatment approaches for patients seeking relief from this debilitating condition.

Psychological Effects

Imagine yourself trapped in an endless cycle of worrying thoughts, struggling with the uncertainty that seems to permeate every aspect of life. This is a grim reality for people suffering from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), who often have to deal with a range of psychological effects resulting from this debilitating condition.

A major consequence of GAD is a persistent feeling of anxiety, which can manifest itself through various cognitive symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, irritability and constant overthinking.

People with GAD may also experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, muscle tension and sleep disturbances, further exacerbating their mental distress.

In addition, these effects can hinder one’s ability to maintain healthy relationships and perform daily tasks effectively. It is important to understand the multifaceted nature of GAD so that appropriate interventions and coping strategies can be developed to alleviate its far-reaching psychological effects on affected individuals.

Therapeutic Approaches

In order to effectively alleviate the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, a variety of therapeutic approaches have been developed and implemented.

Some of these methods include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), psychodynamic psychotherapy and pharmacological interventions.

CBT is one such approach that focuses on identifying and modifying dysfunctional thought patterns associated with anxiety while teaching coping skills to manage unpleasant emotions.

In contrast, ACT aims to encourage psychological flexibility by encouraging individuals to accept their anxious thoughts and feelings without judgment and to engage in value-based actions despite experiencing discomfort.

Pharmacological treatments are also an integral part of the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, particularly when used in conjunction with evidence-based psychotherapies.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are among the most commonly prescribed medications due to their proven effectiveness in reducing anxiety levels.

In addition, benzodiazepines can be used for short-term relief from acute episodes of anxiety. However, they should not serve as a long-term solution given the potential risks associated with dependence and withdrawal.

Overall, tailoring treatment plans according to individual needs remains vital to ensure optimal outcomes for those suffering from this debilitating condition.

Treatment strategies and support

Having explored various treatment approaches for the management of generalised anxiety disorder, it is important to consider the role of coping strategies and support in the management of this mental health condition. Although treatment can lead to significant improvements, individuals may still experience occasional anxiety attacks that require adaptive ways of coping with stressors.

In this context, incorporating effective coping mechanisms and obtaining adequate support from friends, family or professional networks can be vital to maintaining long-term progress. Coping strategies include a wide range of techniques designed to help individuals manage their anxious thoughts and feelings. Some common examples are mindfulness practices such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation or meditation to promote self-awareness and alleviate distressing symptoms.

In addition, regular physical activity has been shown to not only reduce stress but also improve overall well-being by releasing mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins. In addition, promoting a more balanced lifestyle through proper sleep hygiene and healthy food choices can have positive effects on a person’s ability to effectively handle stress.

In addition to these personal efforts, seeking external support – from loved ones who offer understanding and empathy or joining peer groups can make a significant difference in overcoming the challenges posed by generalised anxiety disorder.


In conclusion, generalized anxiety disorder is a complex condition that significantly affects the daily life of the individual.

A thorough understanding of the triggers, distinctions from other disorders, physical manifestations and psychological effects can help identify appropriate treatment approaches.

Treating this disorder requires the use of coping strategies and seeking support from professionals or loved ones.

In this way, individuals living with generalized anxiety disorder can see improvement in mental health and overall quality of life.

The process of psychotherapy requires commitment, dedication and is addressed only to those who seriously see that they need to change their lives. If you are thinking of starting this journey, please call me at 211 71 51 801 to make an appointment and let’s see together how I can help you.

Mixalis Paterakis
Psychologist Psychotherapist
University of Indianapolis University of Middlesex
Karneadou 37, Kolonaki (next to Evangelismos)
I accept by appointment
Tel: 211 7151 801

    Πατεράκης Μιχάλης
    Ψυχολόγος Αθήνα


      Psychologist Athens