by Tess Thompson
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most difficult of the anxiety disorders to diagnose because it lacks many of the more dramatic symptoms of other disorders. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are not always prone to panic attacks, for example, and do not necessarily fear social situations. GAD usually includes subtler symptoms, such as excessive worry about things like work, family, health or money, and can be accompanied by physical symptoms that include muscle twitching, headaches, sweating, or gastrointestinal trouble. The National Institute of Health classifies a specific symptom of GAD as being excessive worry or anxiety occurring more days than not for at least a six month period. Many who experience this can begin to feel frustrated and helpless, but there are a variety of successful treatments and therapy that can help restore patients to a normal life.
Individual therapy is generally recommended for people with GAD, as many do not feel comfortable discussing their symptoms in a group environment. Therapy sessions should focus on identifying stress factors, practicing relaxation techniques and breathing exercises, and helping the individual find a balance between work, family, personal time and other obligations.
Doctors occasionally prescribe medication as one of the treatments for anxiety if the individual's symptoms are so intense that they interfere with psychotherapy and relaxation exercises. Benzodiazepines such as diazepam (also known as Valium) and lorazepam (Xanax) are the most commonly prescribed medications for this type of disorder, but it should be noted that there is not much clinical research that has shown these types of medications to be more effective than others. Benzodiazepines can produce sedative side effects that affect performance and daily functioning, and medication for Generalized Anxiety Disorder should only be taken if absolutely necessary and always under professional supervision.
It can often also be beneficial to explore alternative anxiety disorder treatments like herbal medications. The herb Passiflora Incarnata (Passion Flower) is regularly used to provide anxiety relief, and as a treatment for isomnia, hyperactivity and nervous tension. Lemon Balm is an overall nervous system restorative that can also successfuly calm symptoms, as well as Lavender - the most popular and widely used natural ingredient for treatment of anxiety and an active ingredient in panic attack treatments as well.
Successful treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is attainable and should generally include a much more intense focus on therapy than on prescription medication. Many who suffer from the disorder are able to overcome the symptoms purely through focusing their energy on learning how to identify stressors in their lives and regularly practicing methods for coping with them. Each person's life is different, and so are each person's symptoms, but individualized treatment can go a long way toward alleviating anxiety and restoring a healthy life.