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What Is Generalised Anxiety Disorder?

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common mental health diagnosis in the U.K., leading to undue stress and difficulty for people living with this disorder. But while the consequences of generalised anxiety disorder can be severe, several effective treatment options can help you achieve recovery.

Understanding Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Generalised anxiety disorder is a mental health condition where people spend excessive time worrying. You may find yourself filled with dread on a regular basis and be unable to stop or control your worrying. But while the hallmark symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder are in the mind, it can also manifest as physical symptoms.

In addition to feeling like their worry is running out of control, people with generalised anxiety disorder may have trouble sleeping, feel like they are out of breath or like their heart is pounding out of their chest, and may struggle to go about their daily tasks.

While there is a significant overlap between panic disorder and GAD, people with generalised anxiety disorder generally don’t experience frequent anxiety attacks. Panic attacks are when people feel sudden and overwhelming anxiety and have trouble breathing.

In some cases, the two disorders can co-occur, and people may experience both panic attacks and generalised anxiety. Often, people who experience an anxiety attack will confuse their symptoms with a heart attack.

Symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Understanding the symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder can help you determine whether you need treatment, either in the form of anxiety therapy or other mental health interventions. The symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder include:

Feeling excessive anxiety and worry most days

  • An inability to manage or control your anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Getting fatigued easily
  • Trouble concentrating or mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty falling asleep or having trouble staying asleep

The mental or physical symptoms of anxiety interfere with your ability to function at work, home, or in social situations. People with generalised anxiety disorder can experience anxiety about any number of tasks or daily activities. You may worry about job responsibilities, your health, your friends and family members, or how you appear to others. The experience of anxiety is pervasive and can happen nearly every day if anxiety treatment isn’t sought.

Learning How to Cope With Generalised Anxiety

The most effective method for learning to cope with generalised anxiety is finding effective anxiety treatment.

Starting treatment can help with several aspects of achieving recovery — from learning healthy coping mechanisms to use when you experience anxiety to reducing the intensity of anxiety symptoms through targeted interventions to helping people learn how to challenge their anxiety and discover new ways of thinking and behaving.

Of course, there are a few lifestyle changes that can improve the symptoms of generalised anxiety as well. While these typically aren’t sufficient to bring about a complete remission of anxiety disorders, they can help you manage your symptoms and live a healthier and more productive life.

Exercise

Engaging in a regular exercise routine can help minimise many of the physical symptoms of anxiety. Cardiovascular exercise trains your heart and lungs for periods of stress, which can reduce the feeling of losing your breath or your heart racing out of control. Exercise can also improve your overall sleep quality, which can improve anxiety symptoms.

Sleep Hygiene

Most people with generalised anxiety disorder have some form of sleep disruption. While practising healthy sleep hygiene may not remove this entirely, it can improve the overall quality of your sleep. A healthy sleep schedule will improve many of the symptoms of anxiety.

Meditation

Mindfulness meditation helps people focus their attention on the here and now, which can be incredibly beneficial for people prone to flights of worry about the future.

If your anxiety is interfering with your ability to go about your life without disruption, these lifestyle changes alone may not be sufficient to overcome your challenges. But they can be incorporated into a holistic recovery plan to help accelerate your path to recovery.

Generalised Anxiety Treatment

Decades of scientific research and clinical practise have developed several effective strategies to help people achieve recovery from generalised anxiety disorder. At APN London, we combine both traditional methods of treating anxiety with new and innovative approaches that can help you achieve remission.

Traditional Anxiety Treatment Methods

Traditional anxiety treatments have been around for decades and have a long history of evidence supporting their effectiveness. These treatments generally fall along one of two lines: pharmacotherapy approaches and anxiety therapy.

Pharmacotherapy

Pharmacotherapy is the use of targeted medications to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Several different types of medications are used to treat anxiety disorders.

Benzodiazepines are medications that can rapidly reduce the experience of anxiety. These medications work by increasing the ability of GABA, the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, to bind to receptor sites throughout the central nervous system.

Beta-blockers are drugs that are commonly used to reduce blood pressure but are commonly used in the treatment of anxiety. They take the opposite approach of benzodiazepines; instead of promoting relaxation, they inhibit or block the action of epinephrine throughout the central nervous system.

Several antidepressant medications are used to treat anxiety disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a common choice.

Pharmacotherapy is typically provided by a psychiatrist, which is a medical doctor who has specialised training in treating mental health disorders with medication. Your psychiatrist will manage your medications, help you find the right medication for you, and adjust your dosage as needed.

Anxiety Therapy

Talk therapy approaches are another common front-line approach for treating anxiety disorders. Several different therapeutic modalities are used in anxiety treatment.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is based on the observation that your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are all interconnected. By learning to change the way you think, you can learn to control or manage your anxiety and change your behaviour to be in line with your treatment goals.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is based on the foundation of CBT but incorporates elements of mindfulness and acceptance that can be incredibly beneficial for people living with an anxiety disorder. DBT has four main components: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation.

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) was developed to treat trauma-related disorders but has quickly shown effectiveness in treating anxiety as well. EMDR uses a technique known as bilateral stimulation to help people through therapy and can vastly reduce anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety therapy is effective in helping most people reduce their symptoms, but it can take several sessions to see results.

Novel Methods for Treating Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Not everyone succeeds with traditional treatments alone. Thankfully, there are new and innovative treatment methods which have quickly shown evidence of being effective for anxiety treatment. They can even be effective for people with treatment-resistant anxiety disorders.

Ketamine-Assisted Healing

Ketamine is a dissociative psychedelic that has been used in medical practise for decades but has only recently been used as a mental health treatment. In ketamine-assisted healing, ketamine is used as a therapy incubator that helps people make breakthroughs with their therapist at an accelerated rate.

Recent research into using ketamine in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder has shown rapid improvements after just a single session. Not only do people experience results quickly, but the improvement can last for extended periods and can be improved with multiple treatments.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) uses specialised technology to directly activate regions of the brain associated with generalised anxiety disorder. The process generally follows a few key steps:

  1. A detailed mapping of your brain
  2. Placing the dTMS device, which resembles a helmet, on your head
  3. Brief magnetic bursts create electrical impulses in underactive brain regions, improving anxiety symptoms and creating lasting neural pathways

dTMS is perhaps the most direct way of dealing with the neurological basis of generalised anxiety disorder and can provide remarkable improvements even in people who haven’t found success with conventional anxiety treatment techniques.

Integrative Anxiety Treatment

Importantly, anxiety treatment doesn’t need to follow just a single pathway. Integrative anxiety treatment can use multiple methods simultaneously, allowing you to have the highest probability of achieving recovery when you start seeking treatment.

At APN London, our team will meet with you to discuss your exact needs and can guide you towards the treatments that work best for you. You can use novel treatments, such as ketamine-assisted healing alongside traditional therapy or pharmacotherapy, or any number of combinations of our extensive anxiety treatment options.

Start Treatment at APN London

We strive to offer the best and most effective treatment options for any mental health challenge you may be facing. Our team is here to develop a treatment plan and guide you on your path to recovery. To get started with treatment, reach out to our team by calling 0203 984 7699 or by filling out our confidential online contact form for more information.

References

  • Mental Illness – Impact of the DSM-IV to DSM-5 Changes on the National …, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519704/. Accessed 23 Dec. 2023.
  • Tully, Jamie L., et al. “Ketamine Treatment for Refractory Anxiety: A Systematic Review.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, vol. 88, no. 10, 2022, pp. 4412-4426, https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.15374. Accessed 23 Dec. 2023.