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Integrative Approaches to Treating Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Pt2

Integrative Approaches to Treating Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Pt2

Therapy for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

Therapy is a key component of treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. Many studies show that therapy is as effective as medication for most people. And best of all, therapy for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is side-effect free.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy that is particularly helpful in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Cognitive-behavioural therapy examines distortions in our ways of looking at the world and ourselves. You therapist will help you identify automatic negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety. For example, if you catastrophize—always imagining the worst possible outcome in any given situation—you might challenge this tendency through questions such as, “What is the likelihood that this worst-case scenario will actually come true?” and “What are some positive outcomes that are more likely to happen?”.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy for GAD involves five components:

  • Education. CBT involves learning about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It also teaches you how to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful worry. An increased understanding of your anxiety encourages a more accepting and proactive response to it.
  • Monitoring. In CBT for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), you learn to monitor your anxiety, including what triggers it, the specific things you worry about, and the severity and length of a particular episode. This helps you get perspective, as well as track your progress.
  • Physical control strategies. Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation help decrease the physical over-arousal of the “fight or flight” response that maintains the state of fear and anxiety. CBT for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) trains you in these techniques.
  • Cognitive control strategies. Through CBT, you learn to realistically evaluate and alter the thinking patterns that contribute to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). As you challenge these negative thoughts, your fears will begin to subside. CBT also teaches you to test the beliefs you have about worry itself, such as “Worry is uncontrollable” or “If I worry, bad things are less likely to happen.”
  • Behavioural strategies. Instead of avoiding situations you fear, CBT teaches you to tackle them head on. You may start by imagining the thing you’re most afraid of. By focusing on your fears without trying to avoid or escape them, you will begin to feel more in control and less anxious. Time management and problem-solving skills are also effective behavioral techniques for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

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