What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Generalised Anxiety Disorder?

Do you feel anxious often? This could be normal especially if you’re going through a tough phase of life. However, if there is an ongoing sense of worry that interferes with your day-to-day tasks, you could be at the risk of developing Generalized Anxiety Disorder. People suffering from GAD tend to feel intense worry, anxiety or nervousness in their daily routine. This interferes with their ability to control their emotions, thereby affecting personal relationships too.  

Though it’s a very common anxiety disorder and can be treated easily by medication or psychotherapy, living with it can be a challenge.   GAD can occur at any time in one’s life, though most people who report having GAD say they suffered from symptoms of anxiety all their lives. Most people tend to develop the symptoms due to stressful events in their lives and the severity of the disorder is said to worsen in stressful times. Here are a few risk factors for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. To know more about it visit  


1.   Genetic Factors

Genes play an important role to determine if someone is at a risk for GAD or not. Most people with first degree relatives like father or mother with GAD, are at a greater risk of developing it. This means that GAD can be passed on from one generation to another. Genetic vulnerability to GAD, when exposed to various stressful situations, can trigger the onset of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Most people are not able to identify the onset of their worry but are aware that they have been constantly worrying about something or the other over a period of time.

2.   Complex Life Situations

Difficult social, psychological and environmental situations tend to increase the risk of GAD. Childhood trauma is another factor. Tough times bring with them situations which bring out intense feelings of humiliation, worry for the future and the inability to trust. People with GAD tend to misinterpret experiences. Something that may be seen as harmless by most, is often seen as life-threatening and dangerous, thus, causing anxiety. They don’t know how to end the worrying cycle even though they can understand that their anxiety is excessive compared to the situation.

3.   Societal influences

We all tend to mirror the behavior of our parents or caregivers. A child looks up to an adult during early years of development. If we demonstrate poor stress management, it’s likely to influence their early social learning experiences and may lead to the development of long term anxiety.  

Excessive social media browsing is increasingly becoming one of the common risk factors for GAD. Since people with GAD tend to misinterpret situations, interacting with others on social media can lead to exaggerated feelings of abandonment, humiliation or rejection, when in reality, this may not be the case.

4.   Lifestyle
  •  Excessive consumption of caffeine and tobacco can lead to increased feelings of nervousness.  
  • A fast lifestyle that thrives on pressure makes us rely on large quantities of coffee or soda throughout the day. This causes restlessness in people.  
  • Relationships are another big factor for causing anxiety, especially among women.  
  • High pressure jobs with sky rocketing expectations from employers often leads to stress and triggers anxiety.  
  • This disorder often leads to anticipation of some disaster and worrying excessively about money, work, family, health.
5.   Childhood Abuse

Studies state that childhood maltreatment often leads to development of anxiety disorders. Factors like child abuse, difficult childhood, parental separation or a traumatic event that occurred in their childhood can cause early trauma and anxiety. Peer victimization is also one of the prevalent factors for development of GAD in children. Children with GAD are more likely to worry about their performance in school, sports, peers or even current affairs.

6.   Substance Abuse

Increased use of alcohol, sedatives and anti-anxiety medicines can trigger the development of GAD. Alcoholics and drug addicts often show signs of GAD. Signs of anxiety are often seen in patients during chronic intoxication and withdrawal from the substances. One may experience emotional and social withdrawal and irritability as symptoms.

7.   Physical Conditions

There are reports that suggest 40% people with diabetes suffer from anxiety disorders. This is because people with diabetes are susceptible to fluctuating blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar is said to trigger certain chemical changes that affect that part of the brain responsible for processing anxiety.

8.   Other Conditions

Patients suffering from other mental health conditions like panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression are at a greater risk of developing GAD.


Common Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

 Everyone experiences GAD symptoms differently. A lot is determined by the circumstances you might find yourself in.   People often fluctuate between various emotional, physical and mental symptoms that tend to worsen in times of stress. Some of the common symptoms of GAD are:

  1. Restlessness and edgy feeling: Excessive worry about various things that has occurred for a relatively long time is one of the most common symptoms of GAD. A GAD patient is likely to have excessively worrying fears and thoughts that seem uncontrollable
  2. Difficulty in perceiving things accurately: Due to an overactive mind with intrusive thoughts, people suffering from anxiety have difficulty in taking decisions. This is attributed to excessive anxiety about the future and often fear they will make the wrong decisions.
  3. Physical symptoms: Muscle tension, increased fatigue and sleep disturbances are common symptoms for GAD. Hyperventilation, increased heart rate and gastrointestinal problems are also related to GAD symptoms.
  4. Other behavioral changes: Avoiding situations that seem overwhelming or finding it difficult to concentrate on things.



In order to further assess the severity of GAD, a number of scales are available for diagnosis. Your doctor can use a DSM-5 Criteria for diagnosis in the form of a psychological questionnaire. Medication and long term therapy are required for long term success. Book a Mental HealthCare Appointment here.   In order to control GAD symptoms, along with visiting a good mental health practitioner, you will have to make some lifestyle changes that help you manage stress better. Your body’s relaxation system is a natural anti-anxiety medicine. Deep breathing, meditation and listening to music are some relaxation techniques that can help reduce anxiety and stress.


HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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Written by HealthStatus
Medical Writer & Editor

HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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