Generalized Anxiety Test

What is generalized anxiety?

Generalized anxiety, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a state of permanent, excessive and lasting anxiety. Brissaud, in 1890, described anxiety, in the Medical Dictionary of the Academy of Medicine, as being a psychic state marked by an anguish without a precise object. It is an excessive, uncontrollable fear, with an anticipation of the events to come. These anxieties can be about performance, work, school, a specific event, etc. The future is stressful because it cannot be repressed.

Prevalence of GAD

Today, it is estimated that 6 to 25% of the population has a generalized anxiety disorder. Today’s society, which generates a lot of stress on all sides, may be one of the factors that favors generalized anxiety disorders. This disorder is the most common disorder found both in the general population and in psychiatry.

Studies also show that generalized anxiety disorder affects women twice as much as men. It is usually triggered in people with a greater tendency to worry, which can sometimes begin in childhood, after an episode of intense stress. This is why generalized anxiety would also be more frequent after a separation, a divorce and in situations of inactivity.

How does generalized anxiety develop?

GAD is one of the most stable anxiety disorders because it is deeply rooted in the subject’s functioning. It develops progressively and constitutes a pathological evolution of an individual’s predisposition to anxiety that is both innate and above all acquired.

Indeed, although the role of genetic factors remains unclear, you are significantly more likely to develop a generalized anxiety disorder if your parents themselves had generalized anxiety. However, this phenomenon can also be explained by the social influence exerted by close relatives who strongly contribute to the shaping of behaviours and personality as well as the development of anxious reactions to situations.

However, generalized anxiety often requires a trigger that can be:

  • The experience of one or more unexpected and traumatic negative events;
  • The accumulation of responsibilities such as the arrival of a new child in the home, professional difficulties, health problems ;
  • Family problems ;
  • Recurring tensions within the couple.

Generalized anxiety has an impact on the whole life of the person suffering, whether it is from a social, professional, administrative or any other point of view.

How to identify generalized anxiety?

Worrying about yourself and others is a normal phenomenon for everyone. However, when worry takes on too much importance in your life and prevents you from functioning normally, then we talk about pathological worry. Here are some clues to help you know if you are suffering from it:

  • You feel a constantly high anxiety ;
  • Everyone around you does not understand what is bothering you and finds your worries systematically excessive;
  • Your anxiety causes intense physical symptoms ;
  • You can’t help but think about what worries you ;
  • Your anxieties paralyze you more than they allow you to act.

In addition to pathological worry, there is a long list of psycho-physiological symptoms associated with generalized anxiety caused by the very high anxiety felt on a permanent basis:

  • Great difficulty in concentration or memory ;
  • Feeling overexcited or nervous ;
  • Fatigability ;
  • Irritability ;
  • Muscle tension ;
  • Insomnia or very poor quality sleep ;
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or feeling of impending faintness ;
  • Headaches ;
  • Nausea ;
  • Palpitations and increased heart rate.

The constant state of tension is mentally and physically draining. When anxiety reaches critical levels, the person with generalized anxiety may be prone to panic attacks. Although there are solutions for managing a panic attack, this is not a long-term solution: there are consequences to untreated anxiety. 

The health consequences of GAD

GAD is often associated with other disorders, such as phobias or depression. The person feels overwhelmed by his or her anxieties and loses control of his or her life. An estimated 56% of people with GAD develop at least one other anxiety disorder. Similarly, 59% of GAD patients develop a major depressive state within a year.

The diagnosis of generalized anxiety

Generalized anxiety disorder gives rise to a large number of different symptoms. It is therefore quite complex to diagnose GAD using a single test. There are several self-tests that measure the level of intolerance to uncertainty, which is central to the development and maintenance of the disorder over time.

However, the most appropriate tests to help you determine whether your condition may require therapeutic follow-up are those aimed at calculating your overall level of anxiety, such as the GAD-7.

The GAD-7 was created in 2006 by four psychology researchers, Spitzer, Kroenke, Williams and Löwe. The participation of 2739 patients allowed the test to be validated. This questionnaire is used to evaluate the severity of symptoms and to monitor possible changes in behavior over time.

Through this questionnaire, you can get an idea of your general anxiety level. Answer in a completely honest and natural way. Your answers are not recorded or consulted. The sole purpose of this test is to help you gain insight into the anxiety you may be feeling.

Once you know your general anxiety level, you can start to work on solutions to overcome this anxiety.