What is a general worrier? You guessed it. It is someone who worries just about everything. The worry is seemingly uncontrollable and often not backed up by any apparent evidence. A unique aspect of the general worrier is the amount of worry. In most cases, the amount of worry is in excess of what is warranted.
It is not that the person should not worry or is being completely irrational, it is a matter of the worry being directly out of proportion of what would be expected for the average person. You’re right. If severe enough, this type of worry is typically labeled as Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
The focus of the worry varies from person to person. The most common themes include:
- Health and Safety of Loved Ones
- Family Problems
Remember, it is about the amount of worrying that causes problems not the fact that the person worries. Worrying about finances, family, health, or work from time-to-time is normal. It becomes problematic when the worry interferes with normal life. Examples include:
- Finances-A husband/father can’t sleep at night, pays the household bills late or doesn’t pay them at all or causes conflict in the family because he constantly worries about not having enough money to buy food for his family.
- Health and Safety of Loved Ones-A mother is so consumed with thoughts of her daughter getting sick that the child isn’t allowed to leave the home or normal social activities are severely restricted.
- Marriage/Relationship-A wife constantly worries about her husband leaving her, which drives an emotional and physical wedge between them.
- Family Problems-A teenager stresses daily about whether or not her parents will ever divorce. Consequently, she uses alcohol to relieve her anxiety.
- Injury/Death-A woman worries so much about her elderly father dying that she avoids going to see him. This causes the woman to become depressed.
- Work/School-A college sophomore can’t stop thinking about what type of job he will get after graduation. He’s on the verge of being expelled from school because of low grades.
*This article is adapted from Dr. Moore’s book Taking Control of Anxiety: Small Steps for Getting the Best of Worry, Stress, and Fear.