The following types of counseling are often effective for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), as well as other anxiety disorders. During counseling with a mental health professional, you can learn ways to reduce anxiety and psychological stress in your daily life.
Behavior therapy can help you modify and gain control over your behavior. It helps you learn how to cope with anxiety-provoking situations through controlled exposure to them. Examples include stress management (coping techniques), relaxation exercises, assertiveness training, and desensitization (gradual exposure to a stressful situation). This type of therapy can help you gain a better sense of control over your life.
Cognitive therapy helps you to change patterns of thinking that are unproductive and harmful. This kind of therapy helps you examine your feelings and separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts and helpful from unhelpful thoughts. Changing the way you respond helps you control the anxiety you may feel. As with behavioral therapy, it helps you gain a better sense of control over your life.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a combination of cognitive and behavior therapies. This involves:
With this type of therapy, you examine your feelings and thought patterns, learn to interpret them in a more realistic way, and apply coping techniques to various situations. These skills will be useful for a lifetime.
A variety of relaxation techniques can help you cope more effectively with stressors that contribute to GAD. Examples include meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, and biofeedback. These techniques help you recognize tension in your body and release it with exercises that help quiet your mind and relax your muscles.
Abnormal Psychology in Modern Life website. Available at: http://www.abacon.com/carson. Updated 2000. Accessed October 29, 2008.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org/GettingHelp/AnxietyDisorders/GAD.asp. Accessed October 29, 2008.
LaRusso L. Start a regular exercise program. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary. Updated May 20, 2010. Accessed July 16, 2010.
Stern T, Rosenbaum J, et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.
7/16/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Wipfli BM, Rethorst CD, Landers DM. The anxiolytic effects of exercise: a meta-analysis of randomized trials and dose-response analysis. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2008;30:392-410.
9/12/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Li AW, Goldsmith CA. The effects of yoga on anxiety and stress. Altern Med Rev. 2012;17(1):21-35.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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