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Excessive Worrying & Generalised Anxiety Disorder Treatment



Worrying too much? It is normal to worry a little but if you are troubled by constant worries it is possible that you may have generalized anxiety disorder. The difference between “normal” worriers and people who are are considered to have an anxiety disorder, is that GAD sufferers worry about worrying.

Worry definition

Worrying has been defined as a string of negative thoughts that are mainly verbal and efforts at problem solving.

How many people are affected by worrying too much?

According to the American Psychiatric Association (1994), generalised anxiety affects up to 12% of the population. Excessive worrying is the most prevalent anxiety disorder.

Who tends to be worrying too much?

Excessive worrying is more common in women than men, with two thirds of sufferers being women. American Psychiatric Association (1994).

What is Generalised Anxiety?

People who have GAD experience persistent and excessive worry and have been worried most of the time for at least 6 months. They worry about at least two topics.

GAD sufferers tend to have chronic worries about real life situations such as: finances, the health of family members, housework, being late for appointments and losing one’s job. Children tend to worry excessively about their academic performance and/or sporting prowess or natural or man made disasters (e.g. September 11).

Their worrying is so that great that they experience  at least 3 of the following symptoms:

  •     restlessness or edginess
  •     fatigue
  •     impaired concentration
  •     irritability
  •     muscle tension
  •     disturbed sleep

The chronic worry is not about another disorder such as e.g. OCD or social phobia, or the possibility of having a panic attack ( as in panic disorder).

The excessive worrying is not caused by a medical illness or due to substances.

Information from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, American Psychiatric Association

People who are troubled by chronic worries develop coping behaviours such as:

  •     seeking reassurance from others
  •     searching the internet for information
  •     drinking alcohol
  •     distraction

However, these coping behaviours may backfire and trigger even more worrying. Even if they don’t trigger more worries , these behaviours maintain the person’s psychological disorder, as they don’t learn they have ability to control their worrying within themselves.

How to  Stop Worrying

People can learn how to manage their worries more effectively. The CBT psychological treatment of GAD encompasses information, relaxation training, cognitive therapy, exposure therapy and problem solving training. Melbourne Clinical psychologist Catherine Madigan can be contacted on 0398193671 or email anxietyaustralia.com.au@gmail.com

Medication Treatment of Excessive Worrying

SSSRIs used to treat generalized anxiety include:

  • Paroxetine
  • Escitalopram
  • Sertraline


SNRIs to manage worrying include:

  • Venlafaxine

Please note, it is important to consult a qualified mental health practitioner such as e.g. a psychologist or psychiatrist to confirm any diagnosis you think you might have. You must not rely on the information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No assurance can be given that the information on this site will always include the most recent developments or research with respect to a particular topic.

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