Therapist Blog

What is Generalised Anxiety or even Generalized Anxiety?

Generalised anxiety anxiety refers to a level of concern and worry that has become dysfunctional rather than helpful in your day-to-day life. Your helpful anxiety which gets you out of harm’s way and motivates you to study, has gone over the top.

Generalized anxiety means that in every single sphere of life, you worry, feel ill at ease, and just plain anxious. Feeling positive and joy-filled is a state that you rarely feel.

Generalised anxiety involves a constant and unrealistic level of fear and worry. Anxiety is the automatic physiological physical changes that occur in response to perceived threat or danger. When we think we’re in danger or when we are, an immediate message is sent throughout our body: that of D A N G E R. With that perception of danger comes an automatic jolt of adrenaline to prepare us to either ‘fight’ (tackle the situation head on), ‘flight’ (flee from the situation). The helpful ‘fight or flight’ response gets us out of danger and it’s characterised by:

Increased heart rate & blood pressureIncreased breathing rateA feeling of fear or apprehensionTrembling, shaking or a feeling of restlessnessFeeling cold, clammy, chills or hot flushesFeeling nauseous or butterflies in the stomach

Indicators that you might have generalised anxiety

If you're someone who can never have enough money to relax and enjoy spending it, you may have underlying anxiety problems that you haven't had to face, or you haven't wanted to face. If opportunities to travel become reasons for days or weeks of anxiety-induced diarrhoea, while you worry about packing, not packing; finding the right terminal; getting lost in a foreign airport, driving in a foreign country, then you may have generalised anxiety. If your plane leaves at 6pm and you have to be at the airport at 4pm, then you need to be there at 4pm, maybe 3.30pm. Needing to get there by 2pm or even 2.30pm places additional strain on you and others. Chances are you have generalised anxiety. 

Your anxiety switch is turned up way too high and your quiet enjoyment of life is being seriously impaired. Your life is so filled with unhappy fear-filled feelings that you’ve forgotten how to feel joy and happiness. You tend to worry and predict the worst about everything

You feel intense levels of fear, about big and little issues and your anxiety manifests itself as uncomfortable physical symptoms throughout the day. Although you may have days, even weeks, without feeling too much fear and anxiety about life, it’ll take only something small for your world to cave in. Sometimes, if you have what I term background anxiety (anxiety that doesn't manifest itself as debilitating attacks of panic, but stays in the background of your life), sometimes you’ve had much more serious episodes of anxiety attacks and panic attacks in your adolescence or early twenties.

You can’t fix what you don’t admit

Many people with generalised anxiety don’t seek help because they put it down to “that’s just the way I am”. Instead, they live a life of quiet desperation and profound unhappiness. Rarely do they just relax and enjoy, or even recognise, the blessings they have in their lives. A great deal of their time is spent criticising work colleagues and even family and friends – often seen as the cause of their anxieties. Because they rarely breathe in joy themselves, they’re not as capable of transmitting sheer pleasure and joy in being alive to those around them.

It’s relatively easy and quick to receive practical help with generalised anxiety and the benefit is profound: a happier you.