Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.
Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.
However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily life.
Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder (social phobia).
However, the information in this section is about a specific condition called generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
GAD is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.
People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. These vary from person to person, but can include feeling restless or worried and having trouble concentrating or sleeping.
Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, you should see your therapist if anxiety is affecting your daily life or is causing you distress.
The exact cause of GAD is not fully understood, although it’s likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested these may include:
However, many people develop GAD for no apparent reason.