As a generalized anxiety disorder veteran, I can’t think of too many things that can more relentlessly squeeze the lifeblood right out of you. But, believe me, we can break the grip and move-on with our lives. What say we get right after it?
If you’ve identified GAD as the cause of your misery, and you’re well into coming to understand and accept it, it’s just silly not to participate in psychotherapy (call it ‘counseling’ if it’s easier to swallow).
In that piece, we learned generalized anxiety disorder’s (GAD) most prominent symptom is persistent, excessive, and irrational worry about everyday things. We also came to understand that one who endures GAD most often expects the worst, even when there’s no reason for concern.
And the very bitter frosting on the cake is the dread and bonus anxiety that hits home when we even think about getting through any given day.
If you haven’t already, please read Part 1. There’s so much to learn.
Well, back to the business at hand. Yes, GAD can become a chronic set of circumstances; however, there’s no doubt we can break the grip – and move-on with our lives.
And here’s how…
Breaking the Grip of GAD: Identification, Understanding, Acceptance
The very first step in breaking the grip of GAD, as with any emotional/mental health situation, is identification. How could we ever hope to move-on with our lives if we don’t know the cause – the name – of that which ails us?
From Part 1…
…I found comfort in identifying and understanding that from which I suffered. I mean, having at least an explanation removed so much mystery and fear from my soul. And it really helped with treating and tolerating the symptoms that were ripping me up.
After the identification proceedings, it’s on to understanding GAD. It’s up to us to do all we can to gain insight into what it is, how it presents in us, and how it impacts our lives. Sure, your therapist or psychiatrist can help; however, there are so many additional resources available to you, especially online.
I encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get after it.
Well, identification and understanding are handled, so it’s time for acceptance. Yikes! I typically get a lot of push-back on this one. But please realize I’m talking acceptance, not acquiescence. Huge difference.
How ’bout this from Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life: The New Acceptance & Commitment Therapy by Steven C. Hayes, PhD with Spencer Smith?
When we encounter painful content within ourselves, we want to do what we always do: fix it up and sort it out so that we can get rid of it…Psychological pain has a history and, at least in that aspect, it is not a matter of getting rid of it. It is more a matter of how we deal with it and move forward.
What more can I say?
Breaking the Grip of GAD: Therapy
If you’ve identified GAD as the cause of your misery, and you’re well into coming to understand and accept it, it’s just silly not to participate in psychotherapy (call it “counseling” if it’s easier to swallow).
The therapy/medication two-step is thought to be most desirable. However, if I had to choose one or the other for my personal circumstances, I’d go with therapy.
There are two therapies thought to be the best primary interventions for GAD: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Interesting, ACT is actually an extension of CBT.
Now, this isn’t where I go into a long explanation of both. I’d rather list a handful of GAD-relevant items you need to be aware of, and work with. And please don’t hesitate to discuss them with your therapist.
- Cognitive distortions
- Cognitive restructuring
- Relaxation techniques
- Worry practices
- Intolerance of uncertainty
- Stimulus control
- Core fears
Really, there’s so much to learn, insight to come-by, and relief to be had. Why not get involved with a therapeutic partner?!
Breaking the Grip of GAD: Medication
In some cases, medication is indicated in the treatment of GAD, especially as therapy commences (did I mention that again?).
Here’s a non-all-inclusive list of meds that are commonly used to manage GAD. Again, do your due diligence…
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI): escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa)
- Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI): venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Tricyclic: imipramine (Tofranil), amitriptyline (Elavil)
Couple things to keep in mind when it comes to antidepressants. There are four that are FDA approved for the treatment of GAD: Lexapro, Paxil, Effexor, and Cymbalta. That isn’t to say the rest of the antidepressants, prescribed off-label, are a push for being less effective.
Also keep in mind that some 10% of those diagnosed with GAD are also dealing with some degree of bipolarity. Antidepressants are known to generate varying degrees of mania in a significant number of bipolarity cases.
Beta Blockers: propranolol (Inderal), atenalol (Tenormin)
Often used to manage heart arrhythmias and hypertension, beta blockers, well, block epinephrine and norepinephrine receptor sites within the sympathetic nervous system, the activator of the physiological changes that occur during our fight/flight response. It’s all about weakening the effects of stress hormones.
Benzodiazepines: alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan)
Think long and hard about turning to benzos. Tolerance, dependence, withdrawal, and nasty long-term-use effects make them a very dicey proposition. (Was I subtle enough?)
Others: buspirone (Buspar), hydroxyzine (Vistaril), pregabalin (Lyrica)
Finally, let’s not forget about vitamins and supplements.
And That’s That
Absolutely, generalized anxiety disorder can squeeze the lifeblood right out of anyone. But, that’s before we’ve identified, understood, and accepted it. And, of course, commenced upon our treatment journey.
As confounding and painful as it is, we can break the grip of GAD and move-on with our lives. Never doubt it.
So get after it! And from one who’s been there and back, you’re gonna’ be okay…
Hey, plenty more Chipur articles where this came from. Check-out the titles.