Lauren Stevenson, PsyD., Director
Pasadena, CA

Capstone Psychological Services

​What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety and worry is a normal part of life. People with GAD, however, experience anxiety and worry in a way that interferes with their daily life. People with GAD are extremely worried about nearly all aspects of life, such as finances, relationships, disasters, work or school performance, among other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks. One of the major defining features of GAD is that people experiencing the disorder have a very difficult time controlling the worry thoughts.

What are the signs and symptoms of GAD?

​A person with GAD may:
  • ​Worry very much about everyday things
  • Have trouble controlling their constant worries
  • Know that they worry much more than they should
  • Not be able to relax
  • Have a hard time concentrating
  • Be easily startled
  • Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feel tired all the time
  • Have headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or unexplained pains
  • Have a hard time swallowing
  • Tremble or twitch
  • Be irritable, sweat a lot, and feel light-headed or out of breath
  • Have to go to the bathroom a lot.
                                    (National Institute of Mental Health)

Generalized Anxiety

Treatment Approach

CBT for anxiety disorders aims to help a person develop a more adaptive response to a fear. The focus is on helping the client identify the thought patterns that sustain the feeling of anxiety, while helping them change the way they react to anxiety provoking situations. The goals is not to eliminate anxiety, as anxiety is an important emotion that alerts us to danger - but rather, to help people learn how to accurately interpret situations and to no longer avoid situations that make them uncomfortable, especially when such situations are vital to daily life, such as driving or interacting socially with others.

National Institute of Mental Health Link

General Anxiety Disorder