Generalized anxiety disorder:
How do you treat it?
Generalized anxiety disorder plan for treatment:
Individuals presenting with
generalized anxiety disorder have symptoms that include physiological arousal
(restlessness, muscle tension, sleep disturbances), along with cognitive
symptoms (worry, difficulty controlling worry, and inability to concentrate).
The goals of treatment for generalized anxiety disorder using a cognitive
behavioral approach are usually to reduce the overall level of autonomic
arousal, decrease the level of concern about worry, and to assist the individual
in reducing their overall level of worry to a reasonable and functional level.
Since they are usually worried about a variety of situations and themes,
“general" interventions are frequently utilized. Therapists will use
interventions such as progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, breathing
relaxation, and the behavioral treatment of insomnia in order to reduce an
individual's overall level of anxious arousal, and will employ a variety of
cognitive interventions to address the worry.
Generalized anxiety disorder and worry:
The relationship of worry to
generalized anxiety disorder is a fundamental one. The cognitive interventions
for generalized anxiety disorder include assisting the patient to distinguish
between productive and unproductive worry, addressing the patient’s concern that
worrying too much may be harmful, along with helping him or her to learn to
distinguish between anxiety and actual facts. Since a patient with generalized
anxiety disorder is usually worrying throughout the day, the clinician may
assist the patient to limit worrying to a "worry time" and will help the patient
to monitor the various themes associated with worry. Finally, the treatment
approach may help to assist the patient to recognize that he or she may be very
able to cope with a variety of problems if they should arise.
Generalized anxiety disorder and other mental disorders:
Treatment of patients with
generalized anxiety disorder often involves addressing more than one disorder,
since 83-91% have comorbid disorders such as depression and other anxiety
disorders. In practice, various treatments are used including cognitive
behavioral treatments which focus on the thoughts associated with generalized
anxiety disorder as well as relaxation techniques which are frequently used
simultaneously. Moreover, since generalized anxiety disorder is often comorbid
with depression or other anxiety disorders, the clinician will usually need to
employ treatment modalities associated with those specific disorders as well.
Early treatment concerns involve consideration of the necessity of medication,
socialization to the therapy model and relaxation training. Because of its
generalized and chronic nature, generalized anxiety disorder is not easily
treated, although studies frequently report success utilizing medication and
primarily cognitive behavioral methods.
Some information from
Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders by Robert
L. Leahy and Stephen J. Holland
Additional information and
web page by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate
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