Treatments for generalised anxiety disorder

Depending on the severity, generalised anxiety disorder can be treated with therapy or medication, or a combination of both. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the main ways of treating an anxiety disorder, involving challenging your negative way of thinking about situations and learning new tools and techniques to overcome them. Medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication may also be prescribed to help you cope with the physical and mental symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder.

Talking therapies

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT helps you understand the links between your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It can help you to find ways to overcome your anxiety by challenging negative thoughts and beliefs.

You’ll usually be offered 12–15 weekly sessions each lasting 1 hour, but you can receive less or more depending on your needs.

Applied relaxation

In applied relaxation, a trained therapist will teach you how to  relax your body in a new way. For example, learning how to relax your muscles so that you can fall asleep easier.

Depending on the anxiety that you have, you will usually get 12–15 weekly sessions each lasting 1 hour. But you can also receive more or less depending on what you need.

Medications for anxiety

You may be offered medication to help manage your anxiety. Some common medications for anxiety are:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – SSRI’s are antidepressants used to help treat anxiety. Sertraline is the most common SSRI suggested for anxiety, but there are other SSRIs available
  • Benzodiazepines – Doctors should only prescribe benzodiazepines if your anxiety is extreme or if you are in crisis. This is because they are addictive and become less effective if used long-term
  • Beta-blockers – These can help with the physical signs of anxiety. They can help to lower a fast heartbeat, shaking or blushing

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies are alternative treatments such as mindfulness, yoga and hypnotherapy. They are not usually part of NHS care, but many people find them useful for helping with symptoms of anxiety.

Self-help for anxiety

There are lots of self-help methods, often based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT helps you to rethink negative thoughts and behaviours.

  • Non-facilitated self-help – This involves using information provided by the NHS to help yourself
  • Guided self-help – A trained professional will take you through the information
  • Psycho-educational groups – In a group, you’ll learn about your symptoms and how to manage them

Popular self-help methods that you can do at home to help you relax and manage your symptoms include:

  • Doing relaxing tasks such as guided meditation or relaxing music
  • Eating healthily
  • Exercising
  • Keeping a routine
  • Try to get enough sleep
  • Keep a mood diary to help you be aware of your symptoms, and what makes you better and worse

It’s important to find out what’s right for you. Things won’t change overnight, but over time you may notice your symptoms improving. Treatment and recovery from generalised anxiety disorder is possible.

Your donation will make the difference

Just £10 could help pay for a call to our advice and information line, supporting someone living with mental illness who may be feeling in distress during this time.