Self Help and GAD
Recovery from GAD
Talking therapies (counselling or psychotherapy) and anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medication) can be very helpful and are usually accessed through your GP.
Mindfulness and other forms of meditation can help too. Some antidepressants have an anti-anxiety effect, so don't be surprised if you are prescribed an anti-depressant medication by your GP.
There are many approaches to the treatment of anxiety. If at first you find one doesn't work, try different approaches until you find one that you feel comfortable with and that works for you.
GAD often responds especially well to cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT). CBT is an active therapy that involves changing feelings and emotions through learning to see challenges in a different way and by trying out new behaviours in different situations (behavioural experiments). Medication can be taken alongside therapy, though it's not recommended for everyone.
The vast majority of people with GAD are treated by their GP. Often, medication won't be your prescriber's first choice as CBT can be just as effective as tablets.
If you are prescribed antidepressants, they can take several weeks to work so don't give up hope if you don't feel better straight away. Sometimes they work best when taken for a longer time. They shouldn't be stopped suddenly without medical advice.
The first appointment with your GP can feel difficult, especially if you view GAD as a 'weakness' (it isn't!) so it might be helpful to write down what you want to talk about before you go. Make a note of any questions or worries you might have. Some people find it helpful to take a friend or family member along.
Anxiety disorders can make us feel alone and helpless, and it can be hard to summon the energy to get help. A quick 'phone call to your GP can get things moving and start you on the road to recovery.
Recovery from GAD can be hard work, though a complete recovery is possible for many people.
Things that can help you recover
Anxiety can make us want to avoid people or situations. It can be very hard, but facing our fears and staying with people can be very helpful. Remaining in work or returning to work might be very hard too, but can help us keep a sense of control. Keeping a normal daily routine is usually much better than withdrawing. We might feel like shutting ourselves away, but doing so can make things worse.
When we avoid a situation, it's harder to gain control over our fear. Ask yourself, 'if I were to act opposite to how I feel, what would I do'? Make a note of your answer below.
There are many different types of talking therapy; the most effective for GAD is probably cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT). In CBT, we learn to face our fears and the ways in which our thoughts can make us more anxious and less able to cope. Your CBT therapist will help you learn new skills to deal with anxiety and help support you face up to things you may have avoided.
Other treatments are available for GAD, such as mindfulness, analytic therapies or counselling, which many people find helpful. Ask your health professional for advice, or choose a therapy that feels right and that works for you.
Dealing with things
Putting off problems can make them mount up. Are there things in your life you're putting off dealing with? Might an advocate or some extra support help? The Citizens Advice Bureau can help with a range of issues from housing to money worries. Doing things to address our problems helps relieve the burden and allows us to feel 'in control' again.
Ask yourself, 'what small thing could I do today that would help me begin to feel better about myself?' Make a note of your answer below.
Re-learning to relax
Relaxation sometimes doesn't come easily. When we're anxious it can take an act of great willpower to decide to sit back, breathe slowly and encourage the body to slow down. Breathing exercises can help. Here's a simple breathing exercise to help restore calm:
Breathing by pushing out your stomach means you're using your diaphragm to breathe, that's the large muscle underneath your lungs. This helps us breathe more deeply and can help us relax.
You might find you're taking in a bit more oxygen like this, so might feel a little light-headed. This is nothing to worry about, just slow down if this is the case.
Learn to use triggers around you to remind you to slow down and check your breathing. Maybe use a reminder on your mobile, or the ringing of a telephone as a reminder to relax.
If you're struggling with a difficult relationship, or anxiety is causing problems in your relationship you can find a list of national relationship helping agencies, or speak to your GP about other types of relationship counselling.
Avoiding alcohol and drugs
Alcohol is a depressant - it lowers the mood. Other non-prescribed drugs can have similar effects and are best avoided. If you think alcohol or drug use might be a problem, you can contact DAN 24/7, the Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline: DAN 24/7 website or call them on 0808 808 2234.
There are many good books and websites that can help. Again, your GP, practice nurse or primary care mental health practitioner will be able to recommend from a range of excellent and helpful material. Voluntary services such as Mind have a number of valuable resources, look up your local Mind service on the Internet and give them a ring. Many offer free advice, support and treatment for GAD.
The sooner treatment starts, the sooner you'll feel better. If you've been affected by anything you've read here, contact your GP now. Don't delay in seeking help. GAD sometimes lifts on its own, but why take the chance?
Speak with your GP or a health professional for extra information or to get on the road to recovery today.
You can find a list of national agencies that can help with GAD here: National GAD Agencies
This material is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. We have used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. We recommend you consult a doctor or other health care professional for the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, or if you are at all concerned about your health.