Psychotherapy as a Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Psychotherapy as a Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment

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.

Self-Help Techniques for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Self-Help Techniques for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

When people constantly feel anxious and stressed, their bodies respond in physical ways such as shutting down, stomach aches, and headaches. Many people who struggle with generalized anxiety disorder feel fatigued from constantly worrying. Self-help techniques can’t replace professional help, but they can reduce feelings of anxiety and add to an overall positive way of coping with this disorder.

Learn About the Disorder

Anyone who suffers from a mental health disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder should arm herself with knowledge about the disorder. Learn about the symptoms of the disorder, treatment options, and self-help techniques. Look through websites, read articles, and pick up some books on the topic. The more a person knows about his disorder, the more empowered he’ll feel.

Accept Lack of Control to Reduce Anxiety

There are things in life that aren’t controllable, and many times people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder worry about things that are out of their control. When a person stops focusing on things that he can’t change and turns his energy to things under his control, he’ll reduce his anxiety.

For example, a parent who worries that her teen daughter could get pregnant can’t really control whether or not it actually happens. If a teenager wants to have sex, she’ll probably find a way to do it. However, the parent can discuss sex with her teen, teach her about birth control options, and encourage her to wait until she’s in love, older, and ready for that step.

Allow Some Time for Worrying

This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s not. Allowing a period of worry each day will help to limit worry and allow the person to concentrate on other things during the day. If someone with this disorder knows that she can stress and worry for twenty minutes in the evening, she might be able to focus better at work and when she’s with friends. Don’t go overboard with this concept. Limit the worry period to about twenty minutes each day. Use a journal to get the stresses down on paper and then put them away for the rest of the night. Near the end of the twenty minutes look over the list of worries, and put circles around the ones that are controllable. Take steps to deal with those issues.

Exercise, Eating Healthfully, and Getting Regular Sleep Reduces Anxiety Symptoms

People who don’t suffer from an anxiety disorder should try to exercise regularly, eat healthfully and get eight hours of sleep each night, but people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder need to make these things a top priority. People with this disorder already put physical strain on their bodies, so they need to replenish their energy in order to concentrate at work and not feel irritable.

Fit in at least twenty minutes of exercise each day. Some people complain that they don’t have the time for exercise, and it’s just another thing to worry about, but anyone who’s serious about decreasing stress should fit it in. Some ideas include taking a walk during lunch, stashing a pair of weights under one’s desk and using them in between meetings, and doing yoga in the evening. People can break it down into two ten minute increments if they’re really hurting for time.

Practice and Implement Relaxation Techniques to Cope with Stress

People with anxiety disorders have a lot to gain from adding this to their daily routine. First, make a list of ten things that help to prevent stress. Here are fifteen examples:

  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Making a home-cooked meal
  • Eating brunch with a friend
  • Talking to a sibling on the phone
  • Reading a good book
  • Getting a massage
  • Yoga
  • Running
  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Getting a manicure
  • Golfing
  • Watching college football
  • Dancing
  • Laughing out loud
  • Taking a vacation

Each person should stick her list somewhere she’ll see it regularly and do at least one of the things from her list every day. Once someone is working on preventing anxiety, she also needs to learn relaxation techniques such as meditation or visualization to implement when feeling stressed.

To practice visualization someone simply closes his eyes and thinks about a place he feels safe and happy. For instance, someone might choose the beach. Visualization uses all the senses, so that person would try to smell the salt in the air, feel the sand beneath his toes, see the beautiful colors of the ocean, and hear the waves crashing.

Self-help techniques such as learning about anxiety, accepting lack of control, practicing healthy habits, and using relaxation techniques are a positive addition to professional treatment.

Risk Factors for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Gender, Genetics, Depression, and Stress Contribute to GAD

Risk Factors for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorders (GAD) can affect anyone at any age, but some people have risk factors that make them more susceptible to GAD than others. The presence of generalized anxiety disorder risk factors does not automatically mean a person will develop GAD. He more risk factors a person has for anxiety disorders, however, the greater the individuals risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder.

Gender and GAD

Being female greatly increases the risk of generalized anxiety disorders. Women are twice as likely as men to receive a GAD diagnosis. The reason for this gender discrepancy is unclear. Hormonal factors and cultural expectations may increase the risk of generalized anxiety disorder for women.

Another theory notes that women are, generally speaking, more likely than men to discuss depression, anxiety and other mental disorders with doctors. If this is a factor, rates of generalized anxiety disorders in men may be underreported.

Age and Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD symptoms often develop in childhood. Traumatic childhood events such as abuse may trigger generalized anxiety disorder, or increase the risk of the anxiety disorder developing later in life. Generalized anxiety disorders are also some of the most common mental disorders amongst elderly Americans.

Anxiety, Stress and GAD

Stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Events that cause significant stress, such as divorce, chronic illness or violent crime, are risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder. A series of smaller stressors may also trigger GAD. Why stress and anxiety increase the risk of generalized anxiety disorder in some people and not in others is unclear. People who have nervous personalities to start with may be at greater than normal risk of developing GAD or other personality disorders.

Family and GAD

Anxiety disorders are known to run in families. If a person has a first degree relative with GAD he or she has a 25 percent chance of also developing the disorder.

How familial risk factors for GAD work is unclear. Genetics may play a role, as can family attitudes towards anxiety, stress and conflict.

Mental Disorders and GAD Risk Factors

Clinical depression is often seen in combination with generalized anxiety disorder, although it’s sometimes difficult to determine with mental disorder came first. Of the different types of depression, major depression and chronic mild depression (dysthymia) are most commonly diagnosed alongside generalized anxiety disorder.

Physical Conditions and Anxiety

People with serious and chronic disease have higher than normal risk of generalized anxiety disorder. Irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, chronic pain and sleep apnea all increase the risk of GAD.

Substance Abuse and Generalized Anxiety Disorders

People who abuse drugs or alcohol have relatively high rates of generalized anxiety disorder. Alcoholism, cocaine abuse and marijuana abuse all increase the risk of GAD. Nicotine and excessive caffeine use also increase general anxiety symptoms.

Risk Factors and Causes of GAD

It’s important to remember the difference between risk factors and generalized anxiety disorder causes. Risk factors increase the possibility of GAD: they do not, however, cause generalized anxiety disorder. GAD can develop even in the absence of known risk factors.