Long-Term Treatments for GAD
by Allen Corcilian
GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) is a chronic anxiety disorder that, without treatment, can severely limit a person's everyday functioning. The disorder is characterized by frequent and excessive worry about small, everyday occurrences. The symptoms of GAD are predominately psychological but often include several physical symptoms like shortness of breath, sweaty palms, headaches, diarrhea, nausea, racing heartbeat, sudden temperature changes and twitching.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is extremely effective as a long-term treatment for GAD. Under the guidance of a licensed therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist, the patient begins to identify how his thoughts and frequent worries impact his everyday behavior. After identifying these negative thoughts, the therapist helps the patient to replace his worries with more realistic thought patterns. Cognitive therapy can extend for years and is often extremely helpful as a long-term approach to lessening GAD symptoms.
Medications, particularly SSRIs (such as fluoxetine, sertraline, escitalopram and paroxetine) can also be very helpful in mitigating GAD symptoms as a long-term treatment. Other medications, such as benzodiazapines, are effective as short-term treatments for GAD, but should be avoided as long-term treatments to avoid addiction, dependence and tolerance to these medications.
One of the most important long-term treatments for GAD is to reduce stress that exacerbates the condition and to incorporate relaxing activities into daily life. Engage in recreational activities, exercise frequently, limit alcohol/substance consumption, and practice relaxation techniques such as breathing meditation and yoga.