Symptoms of Anxiety
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.
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:
Overactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behaviour
An imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in the control and regulation of mood
The genes you inherit from your parents – you're estimated to be five times more likely to develop GAD if you:
Have a close relative with the condition
Have a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse or bullying
Have a painful long-term health condition, such as arthritis
Have a history of drug or alcohol misuse
However, many people develop GAD for no apparent reason.