Anything from health issues, money concerns, family problems, work difficulties, friendship issues can be the instigators of all these negative thoughts and emotions."

"People with generalized anxiety disorder feel very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly.

"National Institute of Mental Health

“I always thought I was just a worrier and an insecure. As a child and young adolescent, I’d worry about my parent’s matrimonial issues and my mother’s health concerns. My greatest fear as a youth was to find her dead one morning; I feared the outcome of having to raise my five brothers and sisters; my relationship with my father was not the best and I couldn’t picture myself raising my family for an indeterminate period of time in his company!

As a student I worried whether or not I could find work in my field of education, whether or not I had made the right decisions… I felt keyed up and unable to relax in social activities. I experimented occasional intervals of peace in my mind, but it didn’t take long before another source of concern with preoccupy me again!

The biggest concern of all was to make future choices... All these worries and fears enabled me to really enjoy life at its fullest.

The fear, the insecurity, the worries, the doubts illustrates a typical case of low self-esteem expressed through an over excessive anxiety disorder, also identified as generalized anxiety disorder. As pictured in this case scenario, these feelings could begin as early as childhood. This typical low self-esteem illness can make socializing an issue. While others are visibly enjoying themselves, this individual on the contrary will be feeling anxious and irritated because of this illness. The individual realizes the intensity of those irrational feelings, but simply cannot control them.

If you recognize a bit of your life history in this situation, you can picture how this person feels as she reaches mid-life – trying to visualize her future in this state of mind and anxiety!

"All these feelings and concerns makes you feel irritated and depressed. Anything from health issues, money concerns, family problems, work difficulties, friendship issues can be the instigators of all these negative thoughts and emotions."

This emotional energy wears you out physically and psychologically. Fatigue and/or nausea, muscles aching, and/or tensed, heart palpitation and/or chest pains, insomnia, waking up at night sweating with hot flashes are some of the symptoms this person feels. Trembling, twitching, experimenting difficulty swallowing are other possible symptoms.


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may run in families and grow worse in situations of stress. In many cases, anxiety begins at an early age – particularly when a child is raised in a dysfunctional family atmosphere or when parents also experiment a high level of anxiety.

According to statistics, 3.1% or 6.8 million adults in America suffer of anxiety - in one form or another. Women are twice as likely to be affected. In Canada 3.5 per cent of adults suffer of Anxiety.

The exact cause is unknown. This illness seems to be the root of biological factors, of family background concerns and also the outcome of stressful life experiences.

Your emotions are signals revealing an unfulfilled need. I quote this analogy from Dr. Joni E. Johnston Ph.D. in her book Controlling Anxiety – Keep your Fears and Worries at Bay :

"We human beings are wired with some pretty amazing alarm systems. Our emotions are one of them. Ideally, we listen to them when they beep, we investigate why they’re beeping, and we decide whether we need to take action or wait and see…Some of us have an extremely sensitive alarm system. Some of us have learned, either through life experiences or early socialization, to either ignore our feelings or fight whatever triggers them. And, of course, If we have an anxiety disorder, our alarm system can malfunction. Anxiety can develop in response to an overly active alarm system, and anxiety can send our everyday emotions into overdrive."

We all share the same basic feelings; but how we feel them, our level of sensitivity, our way of expressing them is unique to each individual based on genetic inheritance such as personality traits and environmental factors – which is from watching our parents’ emotional patterns as to how they dealt with them.

As a child you might have learn to either be more high strung or laid back. The environmental setting either supported you or enabled you to express your feelings freely – whether they were positive or negative. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was your parent inclined to talk about their feelings or yours?

  • Did they discourage any form of emotional discussion – either ignoring your attempt to open up or simply trying to change the subject?
  • "Learning how to handle everyday emotions", says Dr. Joni E. Johnson, " not only builds up our strength for handling the big guns of an anxiety disorder it is perhaps the single best predictor of how successful we will be in life."

    The ability to effectively manage emotions – both their own and those of the people around them - is called emotional intelligence."

    In summary emotional intelligence is your level of awareness and ability to:

  • Stay related and to compose under pressure.
  • Identify negative feelings without becoming distressed.
  • Calm yourself quickly when you get angry or upset
  • Pull yourself together quickly after an unexpected setback
  • Be aware of how your behaviour impacts others
  • Know what makes you become upset.
  • Get over guilt about little mistakes that I made in the past
  • Able myself to stop thinking about my problems when I want to.
  • Receive constructive criticism without becoming defensive.
  • Pay attention and listen to others without jumping to conclusions.
  • Be sensitive to other people’s emotions and moods.
  • Increasing your emotional intelligence is possible. We will develop this when we present the therapeutic approach of your generalized anxiety disorder. For now you learn to become self-aware of your emotional condition and you learn to pay attention to your early emotional signals.

    Emotions and Thoughts

    Emotions are faster than thoughts. That can be useful in life-and-death circumstances where were acting with urgency is more important than understanding.

    In other circumstances emotions will build up gradually. We have time to conceptualise our emotions and to understand their roots. In cases of generalized anxiety disorder, your emotions are shouting danger, in ordinary day circumstances. The emotions cloud your thoughts. Anger is an example. We feel angry; we think angry thoughts and feel even angrier. (E.G.: Angry memories from the past could be a trigger) You might not grasp the reason for this emotion on the spot. Your emotion and feelings are tangled up. You either behave with aggressive behaviour or you think critical judgement thoughts and repress the feeling for social educational reasons.

    When you worry, your thoughts turn into fears into your head setting limits. Those limits are like walls blocking any possibility of renewal into your life. You sense tension, we see the worse in situations and thoughts become irrational.


    All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems at one time or another – especially in times of economical recessions! But people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are extremely worried about these as well as many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They may be very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) from doing everyday tasks.

    People with generalized anxiety disorder(GAD):

  • can't control their constant worries;
  • know that they worry much more than they should;
  • can't relax;
  • have a hard time concentrating;
  • are easily startled; and
  • have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • In our next encounter we will develop therapeutic approaches most suitable to help overcome this health concern. One of these therapeutic approaches is cognitive behavioural therapy that helps to control thoughts. For more information about generalized anxiety disorder visit this website:



    Complete Idiot’s Guide to Controlling Anxiety – Keep Your Fears and Worries at Bay by Dr. Joni E. Johnston, PH.D., Special Markets, Alpha Books 375 Hudson Street, N.Y. 10014. Copyright 2006, chapter 5.


    When Worry Gets Out of Control - Generalized Anxiety Disorder by The National Institute of Mental Health

    Anxiety Disorders of America

    Healing Generalized Anxiety Disorder