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Case study: generalized anxiety disorder

Case study: generalized anxiety disorder

Andrew was a 49-year-old tradesman who reported feeling worked up, tense and worried for most of his waking day. He had difficulty sleeping, particularly getting off to sleep. His chief complaint was that he was unable to stop worrying about ‘stupid little things’ that, he considered, most people would take in their stride.

Examples of current worries were his ability to do his job properly, where he should go on holiday, and whom he should invite to his 50th birthday party. He reported thinking things over and over in his head to try and plan and prepare but he always found that he couldn’t stop the process once started. In addition he reported feeling low and sad at the impact his inability to stop worrying had had on his and his family’s life. When he noticed these emotions he would try to think of ways of making things up to them, by attempting to plan special events or outings, but found that he was never able to settle on a suitable solution.

Although his predominant emotion was anxiety he did experience episodes of irritability and annoyance with himself. His characteristic thinking process was reported as consisting of many ‘What ifs’, for example, ‘What if I don’t get this job done on time?’, ‘What if they (my family) don’t like what I’ve done for them?’ More detailed examination of his thinking suggested that he was particularly concerned that he would get things wrong, that he would not cope, or that he would never be able to switch his thoughts off.

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