Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is diagnosed when a person suffers excessive anxiety and worry that fuels apprehensive and negative expectations. This anxiety and worry may occur across many areas, situations, or events, often resulting in a general sense of restlessness or feeling keyed up and on edge. The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder interfere significantly with a person’s ability to function interpersonally, socially, or with their occupation or other important areas of living. Importantly, these feelings of worry are distinct from more useful, everyday, and less disruptive forms of anxiety. 

In other words, an individual may be experiencing GAD when their typical anxiety reaction seems too extreme for the situation at hand. For example, a person suffering from GAD might say of a spouse taking a trip:

  • “I know nothing will happen to him, but I’ll just stay awake until he arrives safely at his destination and calls me.”
  • “I know I shouldn’t worry but I just can’t help myself.”
  • “You know how I am.”

Treatment for anxiety can help individuals overcome these frequent and extreme feelings of anxiousness and worry. Read more about GAD below, and about Harold Kirby’s treatment methods here. If you are interested in scheduling a consultation or appointment with Harold, get in touch at 610-517-3127.

Anxiety Disorder and “No Risk” Living

While GAD is distinct from OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), the two disorders share a fundamental component: a demand for “No Risk Living.” In seeking out “No Risk Living” individuals experiencing anxiety attempt to avoid or minimize the uncertainties of everyday life. The preoccupation with uncertainty may produce multiple and various worries, which may change over time. These worries occurs daily and can include essentially anything, but—while we are all concerned to one degree or another about the details of our lives⁠—the difference with GAD is difficulty in letting go of the demand to achieve “no risk.”

While certain worries may appear reasonable because they center on everyday stressors such as work tasks, friends, health, children, success, etc., people suffering from anxiety disorders may struggle with the desire for total control. Because they do not demand “No Risk Living,” individuals without GAD are able to forego or move past non-productive worry. They might say, “Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to know that we have perfect control of knowing that our fears will never happen. But, if I have to be honest, there is a risk in living even though we do not like or want it.”

While individuals with GAD might agree intellectually with this statement, they would continue to emotionally reject the risks. They would demand that reality conform to their desire for control. As a result, those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder often perform routines or rituals that lead to significant distress (in the form of chronic long-term anxiety), experience less of a sense of intrapersonal control, and endure chronic tension in order to believe that they have control.

Effects of GAD

There are many ways in which an individual can experience symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. The primary issue, as explained above, is related to an intolerance of or refusal to live with risk and uncertainty. The individual has not accepted⁠—or has not developed an ability to cope with⁠—the natural, normal risks inherent in everyday life.

Many people suffering from GAD report that they have been anxious most of their lives. While the disorder can “turn on” early, it tends to develop into what looks like an anxious temperament over time. People suffering from GAD can lose time, energy, and quality of life because of their worry. The worrying takes up a great deal of time. Often starting in the morning when they awaken and lasting throughout the day, each day. It may cause muscle tension, tiredness, sleep disturbance, lack of concentration, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, and an exaggerated startle response. 

Consult an Expert

The range of anxiety disorders is wide, but the symptoms are often similar. It may be wise to consult a professional if you suspect that you have an anxiety disorder and want to understand the best ways to manage it. Below are some ways in which anxiety disorders are manifested:

You can find a complete list of anxiety disorders MSAM treats here. Finally, remember that a disorder just describes something that is not working well for you and needs attention, acceptance, or adjustment. It does not, by any means, define who you are.

Contact Harold Kirby at 610-517-3127 to schedule a consultation or appointment to discuss treatment for anxiety. Harold provides telehealth treatment for clients in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey (Main Line, Montgomery County, Camden, Cherry Hill), as well as in the South Carolina Lowcountry (Hilton Head, Bluffton, Beaufort, Colleston County, Dorchester County, Berkeley County, Charleston).