What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Tools for Managing Anxiety

There are a wide variety of mental health problems where research has suggested sufferers are likely to benefit from undertaking a course of therapy. Examples of commonly used therapy approaches include the following: Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT), Family Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT).

This article aims to explore the condition and treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder with key areas to be examined listed below.

  • What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
  • Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • CBT tools for anxiety management

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder, usually abbreviated to GAD, belongs under the umbrella of anxiety disorder which include conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder and different phobias. This disorder is widely regarded as the most common form of anxiety disorder and sufferers will often have immediately after one worry which gets resolved another to take its place and so the worry cycle continues.

At the core is the need for recognition that it is not the specific events or circumstances which cause the worry and anxiety but the way the sufferers actually perceives them to be threats or problematic.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The key difference between generalized anxiety disorder and other anxiety disorders is that while many disorders are about specific issues such as health, socialising, animals, GAD is not about any single fear. Sufferers of GAD will feel intense levels of anxiety and severe worry which continues to negatively impact their life over a long period of time.

Distress and interruption to the sufferer’s life is very common and may have impacts in terms of employment, maintaining relationships and achieving goals or aspirations. High levels of anxiety are also likely to have major impacts upon one’s ability to interact with others and limit the enjoyment one would otherwise have been able to gain through engaging in social activity. Eventually severe worry and anxiety will also take a heavy toll on one’s emotional, physical and psychological health and well-being.

CBT Tools for Anxiety Management

There are several key tools and techniques within the framework of CBT that may provide valuable support and help to those affected by GAD. Wilding & Milne have identified the following main approaches for anxiety management: distraction exercises, overcoming avoidance through graded exposure therapy and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

Mindfulness meditation is another skill that may provide an additional tool to overcoming anxiety.

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