What is general anxiety disorder (GAD)?

It’s not unusual to go through periods where you feel stressed out, or anxious about an upcoming event such as a public speaking engagement, an exam or a formal interview.

This type of stress can even be productive as it helps to motivate you and keep you focussed, so you can perform at your optimal level.

However, feeling stressed or anxious the majority of the time and not just during certain situations, is commonly associated with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  People with GAD experience high levels of concerns and worry persistently to the point where it impacts on their everyday lives.

The worries and concerns of a person with GAD revolve around every aspect of their lives: work, family, friends and heath. Minor issues that other people take for granted such as getting to an appointment on time can become all-encompassing, leading to them experiencing levels of anxiety that impact on their daily interactions.

What are the symptoms of GAD?

To be diagnosed with GAD, a person must experience a number of symptoms which occur more-often-than not over a six-month period.  These include:

  • Excessive worrying over issues to the extent that it interferes with everyday activities
  • Feeling on edge and unable to relax
  • Feeling tired without a logical explanation
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Experiencing unexplained muscle tension
  • Finding it hard to focus
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Experiencing extreme levels of stress and concern regarding a number of events or activities
  • Not being able to stop worrying
  • Having anxiety that interferes with socialising with friends and family members

It is not uncommon for people with GAD to experience co-morbid disorders such as social phobia or depression; in addition to physical health related issues such as constant headaches and digestive disorders.

What are the signs and symptoms of GAD in children?

Generally, children suffering from GAD worry about being on time, school or sporting related performance and events, fires, floods and other natural disasters.

Behaviour to be aware of that can be associated with GAD in children are:

  • Needing constant reassurance
  • Behaving in an over-conforming manner
  • Displaying perfectionist behaviour
  • Not being satisfied with task performed and needing to re-do them
  • Always wanting to know what will happen if this or that happens.

If you have concerns that your child is displaying these types of symptoms on a regular basis, it’s best to seek professional advice on the best form of treatment and support.

How common is generalised anxiety disorder and who is at risk?

Around 14 percent of Australians (one in seven), will experience some form of anxiety each year, with an estimated three percent being diagnosed with GAD.  Women are more affected than men, with it occurring at any stage of life. Although GAD can affect children and the elderly, it is more common during the age of 30.

Most suffers of GAD are not able to identify the exact trigger of their worries and concerns but are self-aware enough to realise they tend to worry more than the average person.

What are the causes of generalised anxiety disorder?

While the exact cause of GAD is not fully known, but a number of factors – including genetics, a person’s brain chemistry, and environmental stresses – do appear to contribute to its development:

  • Genetics: Some research indicates that family history can play a part in increasing the chances that a person will develop GAD. What this means is that the tendency to develop GAD may be passed on in families.
  • Brain chemistry: GAD has been associated with abnormal functioning of certain nerve cell pathways that connect particular brain regions involved in the areas of thinking and emotion. These nerve cell connections depend on chemicals called neurotransmitters that transmit information from one nerve cell to the next. When these pathways connecting certain brain regions run inefficiently, it may result in mood and anxiety related issues.
  • Environmental factors: Trauma and stressful events, such as abuse, the death of a loved one, divorce, changing jobs or schools, is likely to contribute to GAD. GAD also may become worse during periods of high stress. The use of and withdrawal from addictive substances, including alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, can also cause stress and therefore worsen a person’s anxiety levels.

How Can Brain Training Australia Help?

At Brain Training Australia we use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Neurofeedback Brain Training to help our clients suffering from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Let us help you. Here is how to get started.


Funding options available Private Health, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Medicare, Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA), to cover part of, if not all of your Brain Training Program with us (see our Fees Page).