How Does Thinking Affect Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

People with GAD seem to be worried that bad things are going to happen most of the time. They predict that “terrible” things will happen, even when there is a very low probability of bad things happening. They think that the fact that they feel anxious means that something bad is going to happen that is, they use their emotions as evidence that there is danger out there somewhere. Many people who worry believe that their excessive worry may keep them from being surprised, or that worrying may prepare them for the worst possible outcome. If you are a chronic worrier, you probably notice yourself saying, “Yes, but what if. . . ?” This “what-iffing” floods you with a range of possibly bad outcomes that you think you have to prepare yourself for. There seems to be no end to the things that you could worry about. In fact, even when things turn out to be OK, you may say to yourself, “Well, that’s no guarantee that it couldn’t happen in the future!” In addition to worrying about things that might happen “outside of yourself,” you may think that “worrying will make me crazy” or “worrying will make me sick.” If you have GAD, you may be locked in a conflict between the fear that worry is uncontrollable and the belief that worry protects you.