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Anxiety and overwhelm

Worry and Worrying

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is  experienced as excessive and distressing levels of persistent worry and fear. It is a common condition estimated to affect about 1 in every 25 people in the UK, and is most common among those aged between 35 and 55 years.GAD often involves a whirlwind of negative thoughts, images and doubts about future things that may never happen. The consequence of persistent worrying can be an overwhelming fear or dread. GAD can be difficult for sufferers because the direction or focus of the worry or dread can be confusing, i.e. unlike a dog or lift phobia, the focus of worry may not always be clear. Also, not knowing what triggers this anxiety can intensify it as sufferers may start to worry that there will be no solution.  There is a solution with CBT which has an excellent evidence base for successful outcomes.


The symptoms of GAD vary between people, but they can include: 

  • a constant sense of fear or danger (about a range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event)
  • racing  thoughts and  images, often with an accompanying sense of impending doom or dread 
  • feeling overwhelmed by uncontrolled worries 
  • difficulties concentrating or functioning due to worrying 
  • ​restlessness and feeling constantly "on edge";  ​irritability and difficulties sleeping 
  • sickness or tummy ache,  and with a fast or strong or irregular heart beat.

But doesn't everyone worry?

Everyone has negative thoughts or worries,  but with GAD, worries can be excessive or disproportionate to one or more areas of life, such as work, health, social relationships, or financial matters.  Indeed extreme worrying almost every day for six months or more may indicate GAD. Additionally, those with GAD symptoms often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed.  GAD is highly treatable.  Also, this tendency towards worrying is not part of your personality nor something that should be accepted as being inevitable.Talk to us, or your GP, to get further information and a definite diagnosis.

Treatment towards better

Worry and worrying are highly treatable with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). The CBT therapist aims to alleviates emotional distress by working collaboratively with clients to break problems into smaller parts and troubleshooting these. The latter can include identifying and ultimately changing maladaptive thinking and thoughts.

Alongside, or prior to therapy many people can benefit by making lifestyle changes themselves, such as getting more exercise, cutting down on alcohol, stopping smoking and eating more healthily.  Self-care and compassion are also vital because symptoms can improve when we look after ourselves, and treat ourselves with kindness, care and respect.

"I used to worry so much.  I just hadn’t realised that there was a different way. I feel more confident now about moving forward.  I am in a far better place now and have a better understanding generally. ... I am definitely more confident about moving forward. Thank you so much"


"I would definitely recommend this to others, definitely. When I came first, I felt I was going to end up on medication; it was  not good. I felt like that’s where I was going to be. I knew though that there had to be a better way and that there was a reason why I was feeling as I was.  Now I know the reasons, and I know how to make myself feel better. Now I feel more like myself. I feel better. In fact I feel great. I feel like I have found a bit of myself that was lost or hiding – in fear.  I definitely feel I have come a long way. Thanks for your perseverance with me (laughing). Thanks so much Ann"

– Joanne: Worry and Anxiety (R448; 9 sessions)

"I would definitely recommend this to others; it is brilliant. You begin to see things differently and that there is a different way of thinking, other than worrying. I would have been v self-critical in the past, and very hard on myself but now that’s changed. Now I feel completely different and am more confident. ... I am going out more too ; and it is good to meet others I have not seen for a while. My sense of humour is coming back and I am getting fun and enjoyment back too. My partner is also noticing the results which is good. If anyone is not sure about this, Id tell them to go for it. The strategies are helpful and they do work."

– John: Worry, Low Mood and Anxiety (R441; 8 sessions)