Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms & Treatments

As a therapist, I often work with people who struggle to manage their anxiety on a day-to-day basis. They’re often hard-working people juggling the competing demands of work, school, and relationships. They are often perfectionists and keep themselves so busy that they often forget to care their mental health. They worry about letting people down—their parents, kids, coworkers—piling up more and more responsibilities until all they’re doing is worrying about falling behind.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent, excessive stress. Often, the worry is disproportionate to the actual situations causing them—a term paper for school leads to sleepless nights, or worries over giving a presentation occupy all available brain space. It’s normal to feel anxious every now and then, but persistent stress can seriously affect physical health. It’s important to learn how to recognize it and know what you can do to help fix it.

Physical Symptoms

We often overlook the difference between our mental state and our health, but the mind and body are intricately linked. Our brains send signals to our bodies to help regulate our systems. Those signals control the balance of our hormones and how our heart rate and blood pressure are regulated.

Some of the most common physical symptoms of GAD include:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle Pain
  • “Shakes”
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Irritability

Taken by themselves, these symptoms can be problematic—but each of them compounds over time. Insomnia leads to poor performance at work or school, leading to additional stress, leading to an additional imbalance in the body and…you guessed it—the symptoms can worsen over time.

It’s wild to consider it, but your perspective matters. Sleepless nights buy you time to finish your work. Being on edge makes you more likely to spot a hidden danger—but that anxiety is taxing on your system, and it’s critical to find a way to turn it off when it isn’t helping.

Mental & Emotional Symptoms

It becomes even more complex when it comes to the Mental & Emotional side of GAD. While many of us feel embarrassed by feelings of anxiety, they’re also helpful. People struggling with GAD are worry warriors. In many ways, they’re uniquely well-suited for careers in engineering, project planning, cybersecurity, or other high-stress industries where you have to stay a step ahead—but those same worries can also hold them back or, worse, lead them to totally burn out.

Because GAD is typified by persistent, exhaustive worrying, the problem is there’s not always an easy ‘off’ button.

  • Overthinking Plans & Solutions
  • Catastrophizing Minor Issues
  • Feeling Threatened \ Attacked by Criticism
  • Fear of Uncertainty \ Need for Control
  • Indecisiveness
  • Lack of Focus \ Inability to Concentrate
  • Inability to Relax

GAD can lead to issues in relationships at home and at work—heightened sensitivity to criticism and constant anxiety can make every discussion or disagreement feel like a pitched battle or a life-and-death struggle. People with GAD rarely feel safe, and as a result, communication often suffers.


If you’re reading all this and feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry—there’s good news. Many treatment options for Generalized Anxiety Disorder have a proven track record of helping people manage their stress levels. Some of the most effective tools out there include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Trauma Informed Yoga
  • Meditation & Mindfulness Techniques
  • Brainspotting

Many times, GAD is associated with prior trauma. Your body may be on heightened alert, always looking for danger. That may have been helpful for our ancestors who had to worry about being attacked by wild animals, but in the modern world, it’s a recipe for burnout.


I take a holistic approach to the treatment of GAD in my practice, making use of various forms of therapy—everything from trauma-informed yoga and CBT to brainspotting. There’s no right or wrong way to handle your stress, but there are some techniques that work for many. If you’re tired of drowning in your stress, please don’t hesitate to reach out—we can work on getting you through it together. Send me an email at to setup a Free Consultation.

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