Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the most common of the anxiety disorders.  People with this diagnosis generally worry a lot, tend to over-estimate the riskiness of certain situations or the magnitude or consequences, and can feel tense or on edge or have problems falling or staying asleep.  This is the one anxiety disorder that is not treated with exposure therapies.  It generally has three parts.

First, learning to more accurately interpret the chance of bad things happening and how bad it would be if they did happen.  Obviously, a loved-one getting seriously hurt can be catastrophic, but offending a server by asking for too many water refills is not.  Although it is far more likely that you will offend a server than one of your loved-ones getting seriously hurt.

Second, learning to physically relax and breathe effectively.  It’s not yoga, and I will not touch you.  Many people are shocked at how effective a psychologist can be at helping you feel better physically with simple coaching.

Third, learning to accept the fact that bad things sometimes happen.  If they are not actually catastrophic, we will help you accept that they might happen.  If they are catastrophic and likely to happen, we will support you through them.

Generalized anxiety disorder is generally one of the most difficult common disorders to treat because it involves the patient using circular logic to justify their fears; superstitious thought patterns, such as that thinking about the impending catastrophe will somehow prevent it; and long-standing hard to break habits.  We try very hard to make significant progress with clients as efficiently as possible, and some patients can be effectively treated in 16 sessions.  But the diagnosis can sometimes take 6-9 months to treat.