Generalized Anxiety in the Workplace

Imagine sitting in a meeting surrounded by coworkers, but instead of focusing on the discussion, your mind is racing. What if you say something foolish? What if everyone thinks you’re incompetent? Your heart pounds, your palms sweat, and you can’t shake the feeling of impending doom, even though there’s no apparent reason for it. This is the daily reality for someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. GAD is more than just occasional worry; it's a persistent and often debilitating anxiety that can interfere with every aspect of life. Understanding this disorder is crucial for those who suffer from it and the people around them as we strive to create a more empathetic and supportive society.

Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Though it is so familiar to have anxious feelings about work, having an anxiety disorder at work has a significant impact on your work performance and overall well-being. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (2019), everyday difficult situations people with anxiety disorders encounter are dealing with problems, setting and meeting deadlines, maintaining relationships, and participating in meetings.

Managing an anxiety disorder in the workplace can be extremely difficult, especially when your coworkers may not understand the difference between everyday anxiety and a specific condition. Navigating an Anxiety Disorder in the Workplace (2023) states that Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most prevalent anxiety disorder, affecting 3.1% of the U.S. population. GAD involves persistent and relentless anxiety that can endure for months or even years. Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, irritability, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, and abdominal pain. The critical distinction between anxiety disorders and ordinary feelings of anxiety is that anxiety disorders experience persistent, disproportionate anxiety that significantly impairs their ability to function normally.

How Does Generalized Anxiety Disorder Interfere With Work Perfomance?

GAD significantly interferes with work performance in various ways. Some examples include:

  1. Concentration: individuals with GAD often find it difficult to concentrate on tasks due to their constant worry. This worry can lead to mistakes, missed deadlines, and decreased productivity.
  2. Decision-Making: Making a decision can be daunting. Individuals with GAD may second-guess themselves, overanalyze situations, and need help making simple choices. This may lead to delays and inefficiencies.
  3. Interpersonal Challenges: GAD can affect interactions with coworkers by avoiding situations, misinterpreting communications, or fixating on others’ perceptions of them
  4. Procrastination and Avoidance: Individuals might procrastinate to avoid stressful tasks. This behavior can lead to an overflow of work, increased pressure, and poor performance.

Tips for Managing Generalized Anxiety at Work

If you are experiencing GAD in the workplace, here are some tips that could help. If you feel comfortable, reaching out to your employer would assist with making accommodations. Because GAD may make day-to-day tasks more challenging, practicing time management and organization may reduce stress. Also, stepping away from your work environment and mindset is crucial for your well-being. Lastly, take a moment to acknowledge your accomplishments.

When to Seek Help

It is important to seek help for GAD in the workplace if you are experiencing any barriers to completing or even starting tasks. Do not overlook or underestimate if your GAD has become challenging, as it is important not to let your anxiety consume you and to have a peaceful work life. I encourage you to reach out to our specially trained therapists here at Pacific CBT, who are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free 15-minute video consultation.


Anxiety & Depression Association of America. (2019). Anxiety and Stress in the Workplace | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.

Navigating an anxiety disorder in the workplace. (2023, May 24). Empower Work.

About The Author

Janel Aguilar is in a Master’s program majoring in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and currently works as a Program Supervisor providing ABA therapy. Janel received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University Dominguez Hills and has aspirations to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.