Anxiety Management: The Treatments
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition which causes sufferers to feel anxious about different situations and issues. It differs from anxiety, which is a feeling of unease, as the latter is the symptom of different conditions such as phobia, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social phobia. GAD has been known to cause psychological and physical effects such as restlessness and trouble sleeping. Therefore, it is important that its sufferers seek treatment for their symptoms.
Non-Drug Treatments for GAD
Before managing your anxiety symptoms, it is important that you understand what triggers your symptoms. You should also undergo a complete physical examination to determine whether the physical symptoms you experience are related to a physical illness or GAD. With that information, your physician will determine which of the following non-medication treatments you should opt for:
- Anxiety Management Courses – Different courses are offered to help anxiety sufferers control their symptoms. Some of these are focused on certain aspects such as relaxation therapies, coping strategies, and problem solving skills.
- Cognitive Therapy – This form of therapy is based on the theory that thinking can trigger different mental issues such as anxiety and depression. During these sessions, a therapist will help you identify your thought patterns, especially harmful, unhelpful or unrealistic thoughts which cause anxiety. You will need to talk about your thoughts and ideas during weekly sessions of 50 minutes each for several weeks to come.
- Behavioural Therapy – This anxiety management therapy focuses on changing behaviours which are not helpful or those capable of harming you and others around you. Over the span of several sessions, different techniques will be used to coax victims into believing that the feared object or situation is harmless.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – Combining the second and third therapies, CBT can change both thoughts and behaviours. However, this therapy will aim to change current thoughts and/or behaviours rather than examine past events.
- Self-Help – If your anxiety attacks are not severe, a therapist may recommend self-help methods. These include attending local groups, watching videos, listening to tapes, and reading books on relaxation and managing stress.
Drugs for Controlling GAD Symptoms
There are numerous medicines which Dr Ahmed may recommend to manage your GAD symptoms.
- Antidepressants – Antidepressant drugs are known to reduce the symptoms of anxiety even in those who are not diagnosed with depression. However, it may take two to four weeks before you experience relief from anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, some have experienced worse anxiety symptoms before their conditions improved.
- Benzodiazepines – Previously the commonly prescribed medicine for anxiety, Diazepam and other benzodiazepine medicines provided a tranquilising effect. However, while they can effectively manage anxiety, they have serious side effects including addiction. Therefore, they are not used for persistent anxiety sufferers. If used, though, they will be part of a short course (two weeks at most) or to help you in case of a persistent anxiety attack.
- Buspirone – An anti-anxiety medication, Buspirone is prescribed to GAD sufferers. While it is not addictive in nature, therapists believe that it targets serotonin, which is a chemical that triggers anxiety symptoms.
- Beta Blocker Medicines – Beta blockers can relieve patients with GAD from physical symptoms such as trembling and palpitations, but they do not help in managing mental symptoms. However, you may feel relaxed for a short time, performing better at work or at home.
Only a skilled therapist such as Dr Ahmed can help you determine which of these treatments is best for you. At times, you may need a combination of treatments to manage your symptoms. Therefore, make an appointment to meet him and start living your life anxiety-free.