Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder


We all know that genetics and stress, and biology are causes of generalized anxiety disorder and all forms of anxiety disorder. However, we should be more interested in looking at the reasons we can work on: our thoughts, perceptions, interpretations, and behavior.

Let's look at what we do that makes anxiety worse.

It may be that the things we are doing to make our anxiety worse are also the most critical causes of generalized anxiety disorder. THIS IS GOOD NEWS. It means that you can work on your anxiety and feeling better.

Barlow ( 2002)describes anxious apprehension, or " the future-oriented mood state in which an individual becomes ready for or prepares to cope with negative events."

When I first read this, I thought; clearly, I have generalized anxiety disorder. In my family, this was the rule! Of course, you prepare for the upcoming disaster. In every situation, doesn't it help to prepare for the worst-case scenario? Isn't this what successful, thoughtful goal-oriented people do? How can preparing for the worst be a bad thing? Doesn't that leave you prepared?

Is this true for you? Do you always worry about the future? Are you always preparing for the worst? Do you spend a lot of time focused on how uncertain it is?

Worrying creates a sense of fear and dread, which perpetuates anxiety.

Well, it turns out, it isn't such a great thing. Anxious people take this to the extreme. A persistent focus on possible adverse future outcomes causes your mind to shift always to the negative and threatening, your body to be stressed physiologically, and your problem-solving and coping skills behavior to be unproductive. This future focus also magnifies our sense of uncertainty, which many have difficulty dealing with. Unfortunately, everything is uncertain.

"I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time. " ~Charlie Brown (Charles Schulz)

Worrying about and dreading the future does nothing to reduce the uncertainty of it

One of the causes of generalized anxiety disorder is the environment you grow up in. Children learn how to view the world and solve problems from watching their parents.


It can't be good for children always to assume the worse case scenario, can it? If you don't always worry over possible disastrous future consequences, wont something terrible will befall you?


Children raised in this emotional environment may learn fear and dread for the future, mistrust of the universe, and may lack a sense of safety.

This kind of mindset becomes the greatest of all the causes of generalized anxiety disorder. This is a debilitating illness, which reduces the quality of your life.

If you are reading this, you or someone you love is likely struggling with anxiety. Think about how family patterns may have contributed to the way you view the world.

Focus on worrying about and controlling the future causes you to be unable to experience your present

The process of planning for the future and anticipating consequences is not in and of itself a bad thing. For worriers, however, it becomes the core issue that perpetuates their anxiety.

Worrying is not an effective way to solve problems. Problem-solving is an effective way to solve problems. Problem-solving consists of weighing the pros and cons, evaluating them, and making a decision.

Worrying, a mechanism that perpetuates anxiety prevents you from solving problems. Many researchers and treatment providers now believe worrying is a way of avoiding problems.

Is this one of the causes of generalized anxiety disorder for you? Think about what you are worried about and see if you aren't avoiding solving a problem.

How does this anxiety happen? Why does it happen? Research shows that people who have GAD and other anxiety disorders are more likely than others to be prone to intense, quick, and overwhelming emotional reactions( Eiffert and Forsyth 2005). One of the causes of generalized anxiety disorder could be described as a person's tendency to be overwhelmed by their emotions. Therefore, they adopt the act of worrying about coping with this. Research has shown that they can avoid the temporary intense physiological and imagined distress associated with anxiety. Still, in the long term, worry makes anxiety worse because it prevents people from practical problem solving, and it serves as avoidance for anxious people.

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Barlow, D.H.(2002) Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic(2cd ed.): New York: Guilford Press

EIfert,G. and Forsyth J.(2005)Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders.Oakland, CA:New Habringer Publications, Inc.

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Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.