Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is regarded as an effective generalized anxiety disorder treatment. Anxiety therapy helps people identify the causes of anxiety and teaches people to mentally “reframe” situations to reduce anxiety symptoms. Relaxation techniques are often taught as part of anxiety psychotherapy, and can be powerful tools for coping with anxiety attacks.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a Treatment for Anxiety
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular choice for anxiety psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, helps people identify thought patterns, behavior and events that trigger anxiety, symptoms and stress. Once such triggers are identified, CBT teaches people techniques to reduce the level of anxiety associated with each trigger.
The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to alter established thought patterns that result in anxiety symptoms. CBT helps people rethink why they respond to certain triggers with anxiety, and offers ways to break established thought patterns that encourage an anxiety response.
Relaxation Techniques and Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment
Relaxation techniques for anxiety may be taught alone or as part of cognitive behavioral therapy. Relaxation techniques can prevent anxiety attacks and reduce generalized low-grade anxiety – if, that is, such techniques are practiced on a regular basis. Too often, people undergoing anxiety psychotherapy practice relaxation techniques during therapy sessions, then neglect to put the techniques into use between sessions.
Anyone whose anxiety therapy includes relaxation techniques should practice said techniques for at least twenty minutes a day. If you can practice longer, that’s all to the good: the goal is to make anxiety-reducing techniques second nature.
Examples of relaxation techniques taught to reduce anxiety symptoms include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and slow, deep breathing techniques. Some people also benefit from meditation, self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy.
Biofeedback may be used to help people learner relaxation techniques. Biofeedback provides measurable and observable feedback of a person’s physiological state, which can be an important tool when learning to relax. Helpful though biofeedback is, anxiety-reducing relaxation techniques can be leaned without the use of biofeedback.
Individual or Group Anxiety Therapy?
Group therapy needs to be approached cautiously as a generalized anxiety disorder treatment. The idea of sharing personal experiences with a group of strangers can induce anxiety in people without nervous disorders. People already suffering from GAD may find group anxiety therapy simply too intimidating.
When used, group anxiety therapy tends to be reserved for people who have already undergone individual anxiety therapy and seen positive results from CBT or relaxation techniques. Even under these conditions group therapy can be too unnerving for some people with generalized anxiety disorder.
Anxiety, Depression and Psychotherapy
GAD often occurs in combination with other anxiety disorders or clinical depression. Anxiety therapy must consider the possibility of secondary anxiety / depression disorders before starting treatment, as treatment strategies vary depending on which disorder are present. Phobias, for instance, receive different treatment from generalized anxiety disorder, which in turn is handled differently from combined anxiety and depression.
Antidepressants and Generalized Anxiety Therapy
Severe GAD symptoms can render anxiety psychotherapy useless. Difficulty concentrating, agitation, and excessive anxiety can all interfere with anxiety therapy outcomes.
Often combinations of anti-anxiety medication and therapy offer the best chance for successful GAD treatment. Medication provides temporary relief from GAD symptoms, allowing the individual time to benefit from relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy.