What is Generalized Anxiety?

Review and summary of “What is Anxiety?”


As noted in What is Anxiety, one of the most common types of anxiety is related to the difficulties caused by major life changes.  Common examples include both positive changes such as a marriage, new baby, graduation, job change, positive move, etc.  Negative changes include loss of a job, financial pressure, divorce, death or illness of a family member or friend.  These changes can cause an Adjustment Disorder with Anxious mood occurring within 3 months of the onset of the change.

What Causes Generalized Anxiety?

Generalized anxiety disorder, as opposed to an Adjustment Disorder, occurs as a result of repressed emotions you may not even know you have.   Common causes include:

1. experiencing one difficult life change after another without a period of recovery. The body and mind become overloaded beyond your normal coping capacity.  Anxiety becomes “generalized” as it  feels unrelated to anything in reality.

2. difficult experiences as a child such as conflictual family relationships, death / illness of a parent or sibling, active addiction / alcoholism, divorce, emotional abuse or other highly stressful issues. During childhood we are unable to cope with intense emotions without the help of a supportive adult. The coping skills developed without assistance from a trusted adult often actually increase the anxiety.

3. a continued coping style of avoiding highly charged emotions such as anger, grief, guilt, sadness, etc.  and

4. lack of time for self care or feeling guilty when taking time for self.

Psychotherapy identifies the underlying causes of anxiety and resolves these issues at the core level vs. just treating symptoms.  Tools for resolving anxiety in the moment are also effective in breaking the cycle of anxiety. 

What is Generalized Anxiety?

Generalized Anxiety, a medical condition, is marked by excessive worry or anxiety for at least 6 months.  You find it difficult to control the worry and may have several of the following symptoms:

  • restlessness
  • easily fatigued
  • difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • sleep disturbance – insomnia, wakefulness or restless sleep

Generalized anxiety is an anxiety disorder that is more common in women than in men.  This type of anxiety is usually due to continued stress in one’s life or unresolved feelings regarding the following:  chronic work stress, living with active addiction, overwhelming responsibilities with no time for self,  poor self concept, being raised in a stressful home environment or with a caretaker who had excessive worry.

The main difference between daily stress and generalized anxiety is:

  • the anxiety is unrelenting even when trying to relax,
  • negative thoughts or worries are hard to control,
  • physical sensations cause more worry,
  • the difficulty in concentration creates a feeling of being stuck,
  • the continued anxiety creates more anxiety and thus a vicious cycle.
If you have anxiety or chronic stress, schedule now to discuss your personal circumstances, because Freedom from Anxiety is possible!