Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment
- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If you have a mild form of GAD, your doctor will probably first have you try therapy to learn to manage anxious thoughts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Your therapist will work with you to change your patterns of thinking. This will allow you to notice how you react to situations that cause anxiety. You will then learn to change your thinking so you can react differently. This can decrease the symptoms of anxiety.
Your therapist will teach you relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualization. Learning ways to relax can help you gain control over anxiety. Instead of reacting with worry and tension, you can learn to remain calm. Your therapist may also slowly expose you to the situation that is causing the worry and tension. This can allow you to reduce your anxiety in a safe environment.
Joining a support or self-help group is often helpful. This form of support allows you to share your experience and learn how others have coped with GAD.
Biofeedback works by attaching sensors to the body. A therapist helps you understand your body's signals so you can use them to reduce your anxiety.
Medicine can be prescribed for symptoms that are severe and make it difficult to function. Medicines can help relieve symptoms so you can concentrate on getting better. It is important to note that many medicines can not be stopped abruptly but need to be tapered off. Check with your doctor before discontinuing any medicine.
Medicines may include:
- Benzodiazepines -to relax your body and keep it from tensing in response to anxious thoughts
- These medicines need to be monitored closely because they may cause dependence.
- Anti-anxiety drugs-to decrease anxiety
- Buspirone (BuSpar)-an anti-anxiety medicine that does not cause dependence
- Alprazolam (Xanax)-may be prescribed for short period of time
- Antidepressant medicines (most commonly selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors [SSRIs])-to help control anxious thoughts
- Some antidepressants (eg, SSRIs) have been linked to severe mood and behavior changes, including suicidal thoughts in some patients.
- Beta-blockers-may be used to help with physical symptoms of anxiety