Generalised anxiety disorder - Symptoms 

Symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder 

Anxiety: Jo’s story

Jo has had social anxiety since her childhood. In this video, she describes how she went through childhood and adolescence accompanied by constant worries and fears and how this affected her ability to take part in social activities or form relationships. Find out what helped her to manage her anxiety as an adult.

Media last reviewed: 03/10/2012

Next review due: 03/10/2014

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) can affect you both physically and mentally.

How severe the symptoms are varies from person to person. Some people have only one or two symptoms, while others have many more.

You should see your GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or is causing you distress.

Psychological symptoms of GAD

GAD can cause a change in your behaviour and the way you think and feel about things, resulting in symptoms such as:

  • restlessness
  • a sense of dread
  • feeling constantly "on edge"
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability

Your symptoms may cause you to withdraw from social contact (seeing your family and friends) to avoid feelings of worry and dread.

You may also find going to work difficult and stressful and may take time off sick. These actions can make you worry even more about yourself and increase your lack of self-esteem.

Physical symptoms of GAD

GAD can also have a number of physical symptoms, including:

  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • muscle aches and tension
  • trembling or shaking
  • dry mouth
  • excessive sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach ache
  • feeling sick
  • headache
  • pins and needles
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia)

Anxiety triggers

If you are anxious as a result of a specific phobia or because of panic disorder, you will usually know what the cause is. For example, if you have claustrophobia (a fear of enclosed spaces), you know that being confined in a small space will trigger your anxiety.

However, if you have GAD, it may not always be clear what you are feeling anxious about. Not knowing what triggers your anxiety can intensify it and you may start to worry that there will be no solution.

Page last reviewed: 25/02/2014

Next review due: 25/02/2016


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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Cazzaj80 said on 27 March 2014

I to have really bad anxiety find it hard to believe it's just anxiety I'm on proponolo once a day I have good and bad days feeling horrible today keep getting upset feel sick and lightheaded the doctor wants to put me on a mild anti depressants but don't like taking pills really :-( xx

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Cazzaj80 said on 27 March 2014

I to have been having really bad anxiety I just find it hard to believe it's just anxiety I'm on propanol once a day I have good days and bad my bad days are feeling off balance feeling sick not wanting to eat racing pulse and heart palpations some days I dread going out in case I have an anxiety attack or panic attack really hate feeling like this don't feel like me anymore

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Sarah2468 said on 09 March 2012

Up until now I've always felt like a freak for not being able to socialise as easily as everyone else seems to. Jo has described exactly how I feel, and I know that I need to get professional help and stop pretending that nothing is wrong. I'm 21 now and thankfully I had a very good teacher who picked up on this when I was about 7. At the time I had Selective Mutism which I had treatment for, but I to this day still don't feel comfortable in social situations. I think if it wasn't for my boyfriend I would probably have depression by now. I will definitely be going to see my GP next week. Thank you Jo : )

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