Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) causes chronic worry and chronic symptoms of anxious arousal, such as muscle aches, insomnia, headaches, stomachaches, feeling tired or mildly ill or feeling chronically restless and irritable. GAD frequently co-occurs with other anxiety or mood disorders. Often those who worry believe that their worry, though bothersome, may have some value in protecting their own safety, or the safety of others, or in maintaining high standards or schoolwork or job performance. Children, teens and adults with GAD frequently attempt to seek reassurance from others but with no apparent end to the worry. Parents, friends and spouses of those who have GAD frequently feel that they are being hounded by reassurance seeking.
Successful treatment of GAD includes cognitive therapy to learn to tolerate uncertainty, effectively solve problems and decrease perfectionism. Exposure therapy and imaginal flooding helps patients learn to embrace uncertainty, to engage in effective problem solving and to reduce perfectionism. If chronic physical arousal makes it impossible for a patient to relax, then relaxation training and mindfulness training will be taught to help restore the body’s normal resting state. Referral for yoga and massage therapy may be especially helpful for patients who bodies are chronically sore from the chronic anxious hyperarousal associated with worry.
Staff at The Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago have specialized experience in helping patients learn to stop and escape the endless cycle of worry and reassurance seeking. Our goal is to help worriers learn to live in the present so that they can relax and enjoy their daily lives.
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