CASA of Arizona

Anxiety Disorders - pg. 4

Generalized Anxiety Disorder



All of the anxiety disorders covered in this module can be successfully treated with current methods. Whether combined or used separately, drug therapy and psychotherapy have been shown to help people dealing with anxiety disorders. No one method works with everybody, so doctors and patients can select specific methods suited to the individual. Prior to beginning a treatment plan, the patient should undergo a thorough diagnostic evaluation. The evaluation should verify the type of anxiety disorder that the patient is suffering from, identify any other disorders the patient has, and determine if there have been any prior treatments for the disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder occurs twice as often in women as men, and does seem to have a genetic component. GAD can be treated with medication, but rarely occurs alone. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is usually accompanied by another type of anxiety, drug or alcohol abuse, or depression.

Treatment



All of the anxiety disorders covered in this module can be successfully treated with current methods. Whether combined or used separately, drug therapy and psychotherapy have been shown to help people dealing with anxiety disorders. No one method works with everybody, so doctors and patients can select specific methods suited to the individual. Prior to beginning a treatment plan, the patient should undergo a thorough diagnostic evaluation. The evaluation should verify the type of anxiety disorder that the patient is suffering from, identify any other disorders the patient has, and determine if there have been any prior treatments for the disorders.

Psychotherapy



Psychotherapy has evolved in the past several decades from merely exploring a person's unconscious thoughts into addressing ways of actually coping with anxieties. These newer therapies emphasize cognitive and behavioral assessment and interventions. The focus of cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) evaluate the cause-and-effect relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The therapy gives and works through strategies to lessen symptoms, as well as increasing exposure to the anxiety-provoking situations. With the therapist's guidance, the patient can be shown that the feared situations are not so life-threatening and can develop coping skills. The process gradually increases exposure to a set of stimuli as the patient's coping skills increase and the patient learns how to address the situations.

An example of a therapy for panic disorder is teaching a person to recognize the early signs of a panic attack and instructing the person how to use breathing exercises to help remain calm. The effectiveness of CBT depends on how well the patient follows what is learned and how experienced the therapist is at working with the patient's type of disorder. If one approach of CBT does not work for a patient, the odds are that another approach will. The methods will need to be targeted to address the patient's particular set of anxieties. Psychotherapy and drug therapy may be also used together.


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