Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD is a common type of anxiety disorder characterized by nervousness, tension and severe worrying. This is not similar to phobia, where a person’s fear is triggered by certain things or situations. Fears and anxiety felt by a patient with GAD is often diffused with general feeling of uneasiness that can shroud a lifetime. The anxiety is less intense compared to a panic attack, but lasts longer, which makes normal life harder because of the inability of a person to relax.
A person who is suffering from GAD may feel anxious about the certain things that other individuals may also worry about such as money, family problems, health concerns and work issues. However, a patient suffering from generalized anxiety disorder worry about these things too much. For example, a manager’s careless comment about your work could instantly become an assumption of losing the job; an email to a relationship partner that isn’t promptly replied becomes a source of anxiety that there is something wrong. There are times that the simple thought of getting through a day at work can be a source of anxiety, spending the day with too much worrying.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The symptoms associated with GAD usually change. A patient may experience fluctuating emotions, and even though stress doesn’t trigger generalized anxiety disorder, it can make the symptoms worse. Remember, not everyone with GAD can feel the same symptoms. However, most patients with this condition may feel a combination of several symptoms characterized by emotional, physical and behavioral signs.
Common emotional symptoms of GAD includes chronic worrying, uncontrollable anxiety, inability to avoid thinking about things that make you worry, inability to tolerate uncertainty, and dreadful feelings. On the other hand, physical symptoms of GAD include inability to fall asleep and stay asleep, feeling restless, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, and muscle tension. Finally, the behavioral symptoms of GAD includes difficulty in concentration, inability to relax, putting off tasks because of the feeling of being too overwhelmed, and trying to avoid situations that increases anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment
Before doing any kind of treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, it is best to understand worrying first. Patients often feel that their worries are coming from the outside environment, which includes people around them and series of events that may cause stress, or difficult challenges in life. However, worrying really comes from within. Although it is often triggered by external sources, an internal voice maintains the worrying.
When a person is worrying, he or she is talking within about the worrisome things or about negative events that could happen. A person may run over the worrisome situation, and think about the measures you will do to avoid bad things to happen. Although this is a useful step in problem solving, a person with GAD may tend to worry too much.
Treatments For Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Relaxation training is a common treatment for anxiety disorders. The good thing is, organizations dedicated for the development of mental health are continually doing research focusing on learning more about the efficacy of relaxation training. More studies have also been published showing the consistent and significant efficacy of relaxation treatment in reducing generalized anxiety disorder.
Even if there are numerous relaxation strategies that have received medical attention, they may be defined as a behavioral treatment that emphasizes on the development of relaxation techniques to combat stress and anxiety. Further, the relaxation response is characterized by a set of integrated medical and scientific mechanisms and changes that are performed when a person experiences chronic anxiety.
Although meditation is seen by many experts in cognitive treatment as a way to cure GAD, there are no sufficient evidences at the moment that support the efficacy of meditation particularly when it comes to practicality, effectivity, and feasibility of such unconventional way to relax.
Worry Exposure Training
Studies reveal that although patients with GAD may spend too much of their time being anxious, their anxieties are substantially superficial. Similar to a rock skipping on the pond, the worries may bounce from one anxiety to another without actually pondering deeply on a single source of anxiety. Based on the cognitive-behavioral theory of GAD, an individual with the condition may experience this kind of superficial anxiety to prevent thinking about their problems in detail.
Individuals who do not experience generalized anxiety disorder may spend their time being anxious as well. However, the function and the source of the anxiety are quite different. Those without GAD can easily cope with the anxiety because they have the ability to think about the details of their anxieties with full processing in terms of emotional and cognitive aspects of their thinking. Hence, worrying without GAD can become useful when it comes to problem solving, motivation and survival.
This positive side of anxiety can be used to treat GAD. A person with the condition can be coached by a healthcare practitioner to go into the details of their anxieties, ensuring that the patient will focus on one problem before pondering another source. The expected result is a clear thinking, which equips the patient with knowledge, motivation, and peace of mind.
Distraction techniques for the treatment of GAD include activities that will distract the person from worrying too much. One type of treatment is referred as though stopping, wherein a patient is recommended to stop thinking unproductively. Many patients use reminders, such as colored bracelets, to help them with this kind of treatment. When worrying attacks a person, the bracelet will remind him or her to stop thinking first. In due course, this technique can change the course of thinking of patients with GAD.
Another way to distract a person from worrying too much is exercise. Doctors and professional trainers both agree that exercise is not only powerful tool to reduce stress, but also a practical activity to improve mood and maintain health. Moreover, it is proven that it is quite hard to focus on two tasks, hence when a patient is exercising it could be hard to start worrying. Other forms of distraction to help combat GAD are socialization, sports, hobbies, travel, mental games and many more.
Treatment For Thoughts
Finally, there are also treatments for thoughts caused by generalized anxiety disorder. One important factor to combat the condition is to accept it totally. Accepting the condition and the fact that you need help can help the person during the treatment stage.
It is recommended to shift your thoughts about the condition, welcome it and don’t deny it. With thought treatment, you can gradually learn how to stop worrying and act as if you are not feeling any anxiety at all. Just go with the flow, and as much as possible, seek medical attention. Remember, a certain kind of anxiety is important to train your mind to be prepared, but too much worrying will make your unproductive and weak. Change your thoughts to do smart thinking instead, which you can use in problem solving, coping up with life challenges, and becoming a survivor and a victor.