Getting better means gaining control over worry. A number of psychological treatments have shown to help people with GAD, but cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) produces the most consistent and long-lasting improvements.
It appears that the following components of treatment are most important:
- An approach where people are taught skills to manage their anxiety, as well as taking responsibility for change and control over their thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
- Actively identifying and challenging worrying thoughts.
- Relaxation training (usually a form of progressive muscle relaxation) to control physical tension.
Some medications, such as antidepressants, have been shown to reduce worry and associated physical symptoms in people with GAD, but it appears that the improvements only last as long as the medications are taken. Benzodiazepines provide temporary relief from symptoms, but are addictive. These drugs are not recommended for long-term use. Your doctor will be able to provide more information on medication, but used alone this treatment option will not be as good as when combined with CBT.
People are often tempted to avoid threatening situations, but if you do, the anxiety will be worse the next time you are in that situation. The best strategy is to confront the feared situation. Usually, it is better than you thought, and if not, you will have learned valuable coping skills by confronting your fears.