Generalized Anxiety disorder treatment center - MIAMI, FL
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What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is a common feeling among most people. For many, anxiety is a passing feeling that usually settles as time progresses or as the triggering event subsides. It can be the ball that forms in the pit of your stomach before giving an important presentation at work. It’s the way your hands can become clammy and cold before a first date. It can also be the manner in which your hands shake as you wave hello to someone you’ve just met. Anxiety can present in an array of different ways.
Typically, anxiety is viewed in a negative manner due to the feelings of unease and discomfort it tends to bring on. In most presenting forms, feeling anxious is not unhealthy. In fact, we’d argue that, for the most part, anxiety can be useful to our survival and our success. It can be the adrenaline that surges through the body during moments of crisis. It can be the fuel that drives a person to complete a work project the day before it’s due. Anxiety can also be as simple as worrying about making it to work on time during a morning traffic jam in order to avoid losing a job. The day-to-day surges of anxiety can keep us from irreversible consequences. Anxiety can also give us physical warnings about our surroundings, such as when a person is experiencing fight or flight mode due to impending risks. Anxiety can let us know that danger is near and our body then signals to our brain that we need to react in order to avoid risking our well-being. In that way, anxiety can be seen as a survival instinct.
Anxiety can present with varying levels of intensity. Anxiety can be short lived - the strenuous feelings can often leave as quickly as they arise. Or, the feelings can persist for days or weeks when a deadline or major life event is near; when anxiety persists for extended periods of time, the intensity levels can waver until it eventually tapers off. However, constant anxiety that is pervasive over all aspects of life and leads to debilitating effects is best known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Diagnosing Generalized Anxiety Disorder
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013):
The essential feature of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive anxiety and worry(apprehensive expectation) about a number of events or activities. The intensity, duration,or frequency of the anxiety and worry is out of proportion to the actual likelihood or impact of the anticipated event. The individual finds it difficult to control the worry andto keep worrisome thoughts from interfering with attention to tasks at hand (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 222).
The DSM-5 highlights that in order for a person to be diagnosed with GAD, certain criteria must be met: the symptoms must be present for at least 6 months, the person must be experiencing “significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 222), and the symptoms cannot be better explained by any other medical or mental condition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
As the DSM-5 goes on to describe, GAD differs from typical anxiety in the ways in which it manifests. To begin with, the worry associated with GAD can be a looming presence in a person’s life that does not subside, regardless of what day to day tasks they are participating in (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Furthermore, the worry associated with GAD spans across multiple domains in a person’s life (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Rather than being worried about one factor or life event, the person who is experiencing GAD feels anxiety towards multiple aspects of their life. Lastly, GAD is associated with physical symptoms of duress such as feeling restless (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Who is Affected By Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
GAD can present itself in different ways, depending on the age of the person (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The DSM-5 explains:
Adults with generalized anxiety disorder often worry about everyday, routine life circumstances, such as possible job responsibilities, health and finances, the health of family members, misfortune to their children, or minor matters (e.g., doing household chores or being late for appointments). Children with generalized anxiety disorder tend to worry excessively about their competence or the quality of their performance (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, pg. 222).
Regardless of the age of the person who is experiencing symptoms, the pervasive theme among those diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the widespread, constant worry across different aspects of one’s life.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment Options
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
There are different treatment options available for those who are experiencing symptoms of GAD. One of the treatment options is mental health therapy in which a person can discuss their presenting concerns with a qualified professional. Specifically, cognitive therapy has been found to be a helpful modality to treat those clients diagnosed with GAD (Bourne, 2020). With the assistance of a mental health professional, the client works towards overcoming the feelings of despair associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder by challenging the unrealistic thought patterns and replacing them with more realistic thoughts (Bourne, 2020). By restructuring their thought process, the person can begin to begin to create a new internal dialogue in which constant worry is not the main focus.
Another helpful tool in therapy that can assist with symptoms of GAD is the practice of mindfulness (Bourne, 2020). Rather than allowing thought patterns to expand upon what may or may not happen, the person is urged to intentionally bring their attention to what is occurring in the current moment (Bourne, 2020). For younger children who have difficulty expressing themselves through their words, interactive forms of therapy – such as play therapy - may be useful in the treatment of symptoms.
Another treatment option available for the treatment of GAD is medication (Bourne, 2020). Medications such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and benzodiazepines can help reduce some of the symptoms associated with GAD (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2017). In order to be fully informed – including all of the potential benefits, risks, and side effects of these medications – it is important to always consult with a physician before starting a new medication regimen (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2017).
Lastly, lifestyle changes are linked to positive benefits for people who have been diagnosed with GAD (Bourne, 2020). These lifestyle changes include but are not limited to: exercise, managing stress in an appropriate manner, and increased time to participate in pleasurable activities (Bourne, 2020). Since every person is different, there is no blanket treatment(s) that is effective for everyone experiencing symptoms. In my experience as a therapist, treatment for GAD - as is the case with any diagnosis - should be tailored to each individual person. Reaching out to a qualified professional is the first step in treatment. Together, you and your therapist can decide what will work best for you.
Getting Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Miami, Florida
Galen Hope, a mental health treatment center in Miami, Florida, provides comprehensive services for a wide range of diagnoses and related conditions, including: Eating Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, Mood Disorders, PTSD/Trauma, Psychosis, Thought Disorders, and Schizoid Personality Disorder. Our treatment integrates the best concepts of residential programs, partial hospitalization programs, and community psychology in order to provide an experience that not only feels uniquely meaningful to the client, but also breaks the cycle of repeated hospitalizations, over-institutionalization, and isolation from community and family.
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