Four Ways to Identify Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Yourself

Are you extremely worried about everything in your life, even if there is little or no reason to be concerned? Do you find yourself anxious about just getting through the day? Are you afraid that everything will always go badly? If so, you may have an anxiety disorder called “generalized anxiety disorder” (or GAD).1

Everyone experiences times of being anxious. However, when the feeling is persistent, it can be overwhelming and have a negative impact on your life. Knowing how to spot generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)aids individuals in determining when help is needed.

Identifying this condition early usually translates to quicker, easier recovery. When anxiety disorders are allowed to persist and develop without appropriate treatment, the more likely it is that the disorder will affect your daily life. The challenges may be compounded by delay in acquiring needed care.2

Check for Signs of a Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Four Ways to Identify Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Yourself

Because GAD develops gradually it can be tough to identify changes in yourself

GAD can develop slowly. It often starts during adolescence or early adulthood. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and often are more pronounced during times of considerable stress.

People that suffer from GAD may not experience “panic attacks,” as such. Typically, no specific stimulus or trigger – such as tight spaces or a traumatic event – brings it on. GAD causes sufferers to worry or fret continually, even over the smallest matters. Many who suffer from GAD visit a doctor for insomnia, stomach pains, headaches or other problems caused by their anxiety before they realize the root cause.

Some of the more common symptoms of GAD to watch out for in yourself include:

  • Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge.
  • Being easily fatigued.
  • Difficulty concentrating or the mind often goes blank.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Difficulty controlling worry about concerns.
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep or often experiencing a restless, unsatisfying sleep.3

Take Time to Think About How You Have Changed

It would be wise to consider how your thoughts or behavior may have gradually changed over the years. Because GAD usually develops gradually, it can be tough to identify changes in yourself. However, your behavior changes could be due to this disorder.

As you reflect on how you have changed over time, you may be able to identify ways in which GAD has affected you. If you find it very difficult to be objective about yourself, friends or loved ones might have clearer insight into how you have changed. Sharing your concerns with someone you trust can be an excellent way to get a more accurate perspective on your specific situation.

GAD can affect everyone differently, but here are some of the ways in which behavior can change as a result of a developing GAD:

  • Isolating yourself socially.
  • Not having many friends.
  • Never going out.
  • Lying so you can be left alone.
  • Worrying more often.
  • Feeling more easily angered or agitated.3

Consider Whether Heredity or Other Factors Are Involved

Researchers are finding that genetic and environmental factors – frequently in interaction with one another – are risk factors for anxiety disorders.

Specific factors include:

  • Shyness, or behavioral inhibition, from childhood.
  • Being female.
  • Having few economic resources.
  • Being divorced or widowed.
  • Exposure to stressful life events in childhood or adulthood.
  • Anxiety disorders in close biological relatives.
  • Parental history of mental disorders.3

Is There a Chance You Are Self-Medicating YourAnxieties?

Everyone develops some sort of coping mechanisms in order to deal with life’s challenges. Some people turn to healthy activities, such as exercise or painting, in seeking relieve from their stress and anxiety. However, too many individuals turn to drugs as a way to numb their worries or fears…at least for awhile.

Substance abuse is deceptive because at first it makes the user feel better. Yet, over time, the “highs” lose their intensity, drugs become a habit and a vicious cycle of acquiring and using drugs to cope with anxiety and stress begins. If you take drugs long enough to become addicted, you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you are without those substances. This causes you to use drugs even more.

Self-medicating GAD with drugs is, unfortunately, a common occurrence. If you suffer from an addiction, as well as from a GAD, you will need to get help for both conditions in order to successfully recover from either of them. If you think you may have co-occurring disorders, it would be prudent to have a “dual diagnosis” treatment center evaluate your condition. These centers specialize in treating GAD,drug addiction and any other mental health condition at the same time for maximal results.4

If GAD Seems Like a Real Possibility, What Then?

If you find yourself constantly in a state of worry, you may want to start keeping track of your thoughts by keeping a journal of what you are thinking and feeling. Then, look over your notes once a week. If you find that you are fretting a lot about little details or about huge, uncontrollable issues continually, get in touch with a center that specializes in diagnosis and treatment of all sorts of mental health conditions. These professionals can personally evaluate you and ascertain whether GAD – and perhaps other co-occurring conditions – is indicated.

We have several very highly respected centers for treating all kinds of conditions, including GAD and drug addictions. By calling our 24/7 toll-free line, you can get all of the information and answers you are looking for on this subject – even help in determining how much your health insurance coverage will pay for this necessary care. We are here to help…one person at a time.


1“Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Gets Out of Control”, National Institute of Mental Health, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/gad-trifold_124169.pdf , (2010).

2“Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)”, PubMed Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024919/ .

3“Anxiety Disorders”, National Institute of Mental Health, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml , (March 2016).

4 Smith, Joshua P., Ph.D., et.al., “Anxiety and Substance Use Disorders: A Review”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904966/ .