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Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Problems Making Friends

Published: April 24, 2016 | Last Updated: November 29, 2023 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading
A mom worries that symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder are hindering her daughter’s relationships.


Hi Dr. Levine,

My daughter is 29 years old and she has generalized anxiety disorder. I do not believe that she is aware of her behavior when she is around people but she is so tense, irritable, easily startled that she alienates everyone, including her own mother.

Can you recommend a book that describes how generalized anxiety disorder hinders all relationships?

Signed, Concerned mom


Hi Concerned Mom,

Yes, an anxiety disorder can certainly take a toll on relationships. Since your adult daughter has been diagnosed, I assume she is receiving treatment from a mental health professional. Yet, it sounds like you think she needs more help to be successful socially.

Although there are many books on anxiety disorders, I don’t know any well enough to recommend one that would be helpful. You might want to contact the non-profit Anxiety and Depression Association of America (AADA), an advocacy organization to get suggestions. One of their free brochures, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, explains the symptoms of the disorder as well as some strategies for managing it that might be helpful to you and your daughter.

A substantial body of research supports the use of both medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help people with anxiety disorders change dysfunctional thinking and behaviors. You didn’t mention whether your daughter has been prescribed any medication. If she has, you could speak to the mental health professional seeing your daughter to see if CBT might be a useful adjunct to the treatment she is already receiving.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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Comments (3)

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  1. Nofriends says:

    Agree that a book won’t really help. It will make her feel criticized and that there is something wrong with her that you are trying to fix.

    I have generalized anxiety disorder and my 20s and 30s were very hard to get through I was always emotionally behind my peers. It took me a long time to “grow up”. I didn’t behave well at times. I was single until 35 , all relationships were (still are) difficult for me both male/female and female relationships. I was obsessive about men and I was really really hard on myself I still am.

    If you can afford it offer to pay for counselling. The transition from 20s to 30s can be difficult. In your 30’s you can no longer blame bad behaviour on your youth like you did in your 20s. As an adult people expect more from you and you are accountable for your actions whether you like it or not. If you don’t act in an age appropriate way due to GAD, people aren’t understanding that you have GAD, to them it is just bad behaviour. Perhaps she might be open to do some cognitive behavioural therapy with a good therapist.

    She just needs to feel like she’s ok and loved no matter what.

  2. Amy F says:

    I think talking to your daughter in a nonjudgmental, supportive manner will do a lot more than handing her a book, anxiety affects people and relationships differently. Talk to her at a time when you and she are getting along and she’s not very tense. Tell her that you love her, and you’re not sure if she realizes the impact of her anxiety on others. Give her specific examples, using I statements, “I felt X when you Y.” After your conversation, then you can address her directly when you notice her anxiety affecting a conversation. Ask your daughter if you can accompany her to a therapy session to help address the issue.

    The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne is helpful because it has exercises to combat anxiety, though it doesn’t specifically address social issues.

    Group therapy is especially helpful for people such as your daughter, because group members can address such behaviors in a supportive manner under the guidance of a therapist. Unfortunately, if your daughter’s anxiety causes her to be defensive, she may be unwilling to try it or convince herself it will never work.

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