GAD, or generalized anxiety disorder, is characterized by exaggerated and excessive anxiety about daily life events without any obvious reasons to worry.
Individuals with GAD tend to constantly expect disaster to strike and can’t stop worrying about work, school, family, money, and health. Oftentimes, such worries of people with GAD are unrealistic for the current situation. For them, daily life becomes a struggle and a state of dread, worry, and fear. Due to this, anxiety dominates one’s thinking to the extent that it interferes with social activities, relationships, work, and school.
Luckily, there are some options to treat generalized anxiety disorder. But, before you decide on the treatment suitable for you, make sure to visit https://www.myhealth1st.com.au/health-hub/articles/what-is-generalised-anxiety-disorder/ to understand it better.
Generally, treatment decisions are based on how GAD affects your ability to function every day. The primary treatments for GAD include medications and psychotherapy. You may get the best results if you combine the two, but it might take some trial and error to discover the right treatment that works for you.
Medications For Generalized Anxiety Disorder
There are various medications to treat generalized anxiety disorder. Once you book a mental healthcare appointment, doctors will prescribe SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, which are a commonly used treatment for GAD. These are antidepressants, which can relieve symptoms of anxiety and reduce depression that accompanies anxiety disorders.
Usually, it takes 2 to 6 weeks for such medications to start reducing anxiety. However, they’re only effective in some individuals, so it might be necessary to try other medications.
Paroxetine and escitalopram are the SRRIs that have been approved and well-studied for those who have generalized anxiety disorder. If SRRIs are effective, it’s recommended to take them for 6 to 12 months and reduce the dose gradually. The possible side effects may include sexual dysfunction, nausea, and insomnia. These side effects may occur during the first few weeks of use, so it might be worth it to wait instead of stopping the treatment as soon as you experience such side effects.
There are other medications that may be used aside from SSRIs and these include the following:
• Pregabalin – This is primarily used for treating nerve-related pain, but it’s also approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder.
• SNRIs or Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors – These drugs include venlafaxine and duloxetine. They have almost the same effects on SSRIs.
• Benzodiazepines – These are sedatives, which help relieve anxiety. They are known for their rapid effect, but there’s a risk of developing dependency on them after just several weeks of use. Due to this, benzodiazepines are not usually recommended for treating generalized anxiety disorder.
• Hydroxyzine – It’s an antihistamine that may lessen the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Even if there’s less research on it compared to some other drugs, it’s hardly ever used.
• Buspirone – It can relieve anxiety, but it hasn’t been studied as well as some other medications. So, it’s typically used if SSRIs aren’t well-tolerated or effective. Buspirone’s possible side effects include sleep problems, drowsiness, and nausea.
• Opipramol – It’s an antidepressant whose effectiveness has been poorly studied. Due to this, it’s rarely used.
Psychotherapy For Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, is known for its benefits that go beyond helping to lessen and overcome anxiety. It may also help with depression symptoms, for instance, that can be due to generalized anxiety disorder. Since cognitive behavioral therapy involves confronting your fears directly, the therapy can be a bit distressing.
The primary goal of this approach is through changing the thought patterns, which can trigger anxiety by understanding about the following aspects:
• Determine the unrealistic fears and anxieties
• Cope with your insecurities
• Assess the consequences and likelihood of the things that may cause anxiety
Catastrophizing is one of the examples of the thought patterns, which can contribute to the feelings of anxiety. Basically, it’s jumping to exaggerated and extreme conclusions regarding the possible threats.
With the assistance of a therapist to detect such kinds of thoughts, you may eliminate them or find some better ways for how to cope or deal with them properly. All in all, cognitive behavioral therapy can be beneficial for developing awareness of your thoughts, as well as controlling them better.
The therapy’s second part involves reducing your anxiety level in particular situations, as well as changing your behavior. It helps you overcome your fears gradually. To change the behavior easily, the therapy may involve learning some techniques like relaxation techniques or breathing exercises to promote calmness.
Some kinds of psychological treatments focus on finding the causes of the anxiety and one of these can be traumatic childhood events. However, there’s only relatively little research regarding the effectiveness of such approaches in those who have GDA.
Daily exercises can be a helpful treatment for the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Once you find that exercise works for you, push yourself to undertake active sports that you love or go for brisk walks.
Since anxiety is frequently accompanied by shallow breathing, it’s helpful to try deep breathing exercises. You can try the following kind of yoga breathing:
• Lie on your back.
• Slowly breathe in through your nose with your diaphragm to suck air into your lungs while letting your abdomen expand.
• If the abdomen is expanded, continue to inhale deeply.
• Once you breathe out, reverse the process by contracting the abdomen while exhaling completely and slowly.
• Repeat the steps.
Another helpful technique is progressive relaxation. It starts through tensing and relaxing a part of the body, typically beginning with your toes. Once this body part is relaxed, another body part is relaxed and tensed until the whole body is tension-free.
Relaxing visualizations may also help. The meditation trainer or therapist suggests relaxing images for people to hold in mind. Once the image is in place, you can imagine soothing sensations like pleasant sounds and scents. People may learn to do this when they find themselves in a troubling scenario or when they anticipate a stressful situation.
If you’re wondering whether to choose between psychotherapy and medication to help you treat generalized anxiety disorder, your individual needs and personal preference will play a huge role in that decision. Depending on your situation and the severity of your disorder, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor first about the option that would be suitable for you to get the best results and to avoid any problems in the future.