Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder involve cognitive-behavior therapy or the use of medication. Cognitive-behavior therapy is an active therapy that involves more than merely talking to the therapist. The patient gradually learns to view situations and problems in a different way that is less anxiety provoking, which is an attempt to change specific actions that produce anxiety. At the same time, the patient learns methods and techniques to reduce anxiety when it does occur such as biofeedback and relaxation exercises. Specific methods used in cognitive-behavior therapy can include exposure therapy, which involves exposing the patient to the anxiety-producing situation and then helping them cope with the fear that it produces.
Pharmacological treatment of the disorder can include the use of benzodiazapines, buspirone and other types of antidepressants. In general, the drug treatment offered to GAD patients is in conjunction with cognitive-behavior therapy, with the drug viewed as a short-term solution to the problems created by the disorder. Benzodiazapines are generally used in the short-term treatment of the disorder, although in some cases, the use of this drug class can extend for months or years due to the chronic nature of GAD. Empirical data suggests that benzodiazapines are the treatment of choice for GAD patient with moderate to high levels of anxiety. Nonetheless, there is little research indicating that the benzodiazapines are superior to buspirone, which is also extensively used to control the symptoms of GAD. Research further suggests that long-term use of the drug may not be necessary in the majority of patients with GAD due to the relatively low rate of symptom reoccurrence once the drug is discontinued. Antidepressants are also used to control the emotional symptoms associated with GAD, and can reduce anger, hostility, obsessions and compulsions to a greater degree than the benzodiazapines. This suggests that the drug regimen should be tailored to the specific nature of the symptoms exhibited by the individual.