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Anxiety

How To Deal With Anxiety At Work

Anxiety at work

The medical definition of anxiety provided in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” According to Mental Health America’s 2021 Mind the Workplace report, nearly 83 percent of respondents felt emotionally drained from their work, and about 9 in 10 workers, which is equal to 85%, reported that job stress affected their mental health. Anxiety symptoms can range from mild to severe. Workplace anxiety generally develops in response to stress at work and can manifest in and outside of the workplace environment. To help decrease stress and assuage anxiety at work, consider the following tips, provided by U.S. News & World Report:

  • Focus on others, not yourself: Switching from an internal to an external focus can be helpful in reducing anxiety.
  • Challenge your negative, anxious thoughts: Identify the anxious thoughts that surface when you think of work, analyze them, and challenge them to discern if your initial reaction is truly how you feel or if you are just assuming the worst.
  • Draw your attention to external stimuli: Look around you and notice tangible items in your surroundings; this can be both grounding and helpful in gaining perspective over your anxiety.
  • Breathe: Focus on slowing down your breath to help pull your focus away from your anxiety and onto your breath.
  • Take a break: Carve out time each day to take regular mini breaks where you can conduct a quick body check and see where you may be feeling tension, exhaustion, or any unwanted feelings.
  • Avoid getting overwhelmed: Slow down and do one thing at a time instead of attempting to multitask. By tackling one thing at a time, you can allocate undivided attention to completing each task accurately and efficiently.
  • Acknowledge your feelings: Although it may seem that your anxiety will last forever, it won’t; by acknowledging and naming your feelings you can help diffuse your angst.
  • Arm yourself with a robust supply of relaxation tools and techniques: Test out as many different relaxation methods as you can to figure out what resonates with you best. Consider trying out meditation, yoga, reading, listening to music, journaling, etc. to quiet your mind. Research has found that meditation can help lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve insomnia, and more.

While some amount of work stress is generally unavoidable, it is atypical for an individual to experience persistent and debilitating symptoms of anxiety and could indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder. If you are experiencing frequent and/ or severe bouts of anxiety it is best to err on the side of caution and consult a mental health professional.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Postpartum Anxiety Is Invisible, But Common And Treatable

Postpartum anxiety

Anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” It is the body’s natural response to stress and will manifest differently in everyone. Experiencing feelings of worry, fear, sadness, overwhelm, etc. after becoming a parent is to be expected, but when these symptoms persist and become debilitating it could be indicative of postpartum anxiety. Research findings indicate that anxiety disorders in pregnancy and the postpartum period are more prevalent than previously thought, with about 20.7% of women meeting diagnostic criteria for at least 1 anxiety disorder and 5.5% meeting criteria for at least 2 anxiety disorders. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that postpartum anxiety is reported to affect about 1 in 5 new or new again mothers, making it highly common. 

Signs and Symptoms

The timeframe for postpartum anxiety is longer than many assume, as it can occur at any time within the first 12 months following childbirth. The Cleveland Clinic provide examples of common signs and symptoms of postpartum anxiety some of which include:

  • Physical symptoms:
  • Disrupted sleep.
  • Increased heart rate or heart palpitations.
  • Nausea or stomach aches.
  • Being unable to breathe or feeling short of breath.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Trouble sitting still.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Emotional symptoms:
  • Inability to relax or keep calm.
  • Racing thoughts, especially about worse-case scenarios.
  • Obsessing over irrational fears or things that are unlikely to happen.
  • Difficulty focusing or forgetfulness.
  • Irritability.
  • Feeling on edge or fearful.
  • Behavioral symptoms:
  • Avoiding certain activities, people, or places.
  • Being overly cautious about situations that are not dangerous.
  • Checking things repeatedly.
  • Being controlling.

Postpartum anxiety may interfere with a person’s ability to bond with their baby, which can negatively impact a baby’s mental and physical development. If left untreated, postpartum anxiety may lead to severe consequences such as infant neglect and, in extreme cases, infant death.

Treatment

The treatment options for postpartum anxiety reflect those used for other types of anxiety disorders. Medical News Today explains that the two main treatments for anxiety disorders include psychotherapy and medication. Further, it is becoming increasingly common to integrate traditional psychotherapeutic methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy (IPT), and more, along with holistic treatment modalities (e.g., meditation, aromatherapy, etc.) into postpartum mental health recovery plans. For some, integrating a combination of psychotherapy and medication may be recommended. The different types of medications prescribed for anxiety disorders include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). However, medication is not always needed, and for those breastfeeding it is prescribed with caution as medication can cross over from the bloodstream into breast milk and potentially harm a child who is breastfed. Anyone struggling with postpartum anxiety will require a nuanced treatment plan that carefully incorporates the best possible treatment methods specifically geared to each person’s distinct needs.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

How Can DBT Help You Manage Anxiety?

anxiety

Anxiety is a typical, emotional reaction to danger, and has been explained as “the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response that is triggered when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a challenging situation.” It is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety will manifest differently in different people. The feelings of anxiety can range from mild to severe. While fleeting anxiety is unavoidable, it is atypical for an individual to experience persistent and debilitating symptoms of anxiety, and this may be indicative of an anxiety disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” There are currently five distinct types of anxiety disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in the late 1980s as a means to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is founded on the principals of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), utilizing standard CBT techniques for emotional regulation and reality testing, and combines concepts derived from Buddhist meditative practice such as awareness, mindfulness, and attentiveness to current situations and emotional experiences. DBT remains the only empirically supported treatment for BPD, and current evidence also recognizes DBT as an applicable and effective treatment method for many other mental health conditions. Clinical findings indicate that DBT is increasingly used as an effective approach for managing anxiety and related issues.

DBT is a multifaceted approach consisting of weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly DBT group skills training therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching to provide additional support between the weekly individual and group sessions. Within each setting, DBT focuses on the teaching and reinforcing skills in four fundamental areas, known as the four modules, which include: core mindfulness (focusing skills), distress tolerance (crisis survival skills), emotion regulation (de-escalation skills), and interpersonal effectiveness (social/ relationship skills). The distress tolerance module is entirely dedicated to teaching skills that help individuals learn to better manage stress and tolerate painful events, urges, and emotions.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Can DBT Help With Anxiety?

anxiety-help

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety will manifest differently in different people. The feelings of anxiety can range from mild to severe. While fleeting anxiety is unavoidable, it is not healthy for an individual to experience persistent and debilitating symptoms of anxiety. An individual may be struggling with an anxiety disorder when pervasive anxiety interferes with his or her ability to function in daily life. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” There are currently five distinct types of anxiety disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). They include the following: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder (social phobia). According to the American Psychiatric Association, close to thirty percent of adults in America struggle with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy treatment that was originally developed by Marsha M. Linehan, in the late 1980s to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD, and its efficacy has also expanded to other ailments. DBT is based on the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach that relies on talk therapy and emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. It utilizes a multifaceted approach that consists of weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching between sessions. DBT strives to help individuals learn to identify triggers outside of themselves and pair those triggers with healthy responses and coping mechanisms. This is accomplished through focusing on and cultivating therapeutic skills in four main areas, known as the four modules, which are: 

  • Core mindfulness: focuses on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in the current moment
  1. Distress tolerance: focuses on increasing an individual’s ability to tolerate pain that may arise from difficult situations, as opposed to trying to change and/ or escape it
  2. Interpersonal effectiveness: focuses on teaching techniques that enable a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and simultaneously strengthens relationships
  3. Emotion regulation: focuses on decreasing emotional impulsivity by shifting intense emotion without reacting instinctively to them

An individual that suffers from debilitating anxiety will benefit most from a customized treatment plan. DBT offers both the ability to provide personalized therapeutic support through the individual therapy sessions, as well as peer support in DBT skills training group therapy sessions. Through DBT an individual can learn an array of effective coping mechanisms and anxiety management strategies that can help to prevent, reduce, and even become more resilient towards anxiety.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Triggers A Person With Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lists ten standalone personality disorders based on similar characteristics, and each personality disorder is grouped into one of three categories (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). Borderline personality disorder (BPD) belongs to cluster B, which is characterized by “dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior.” More specifically BPD is characterized by “a pervasive pattern of instability and hypersensitivity in interpersonal relationships, instability in self-image, extreme mood fluctuations, and impulsivity.” Individuals with a borderline personality disorder often struggle with relationship issues, lack self-esteem, have a poor self-image, and have an inability to appropriately self-regulate. A borderline personality disorder is not an uncommon disorder, as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) estimates that 1.4% of the adult population in America experience BPD.

Risk Factors

The exact cause of borderline personality disorder remains unknown. There are, however, several contributing factors that have been recognized as possibly playing a role in its development, potentially increasing one’s susceptibility to BPD. These factors may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Environmental factors: growing up in an unstable, neglectful, and/ or abusive environment could increase one’s risk of developing BPD.
  • Genetics: people with a family history (e.g., parent, sibling, etc.) with BPD may be at increased risk of developing a borderline personality disorder. Psychology Today asserts that BPD is approximately five times more common among people with close biological relatives with BPD.
  • Brain factors: some studies have indicated that individuals diagnosed with BPD have structural and/ or functional abnormalities, specifically in the areas of the brain that reign emotional regulation and impulse control. Furthermore, deviations from typical serotonin (hormone that works to stabilize one’s mood, happiness, and feelings of well-being) production could increase one’s vulnerability to BPD.

There is no definitive medical test to diagnose borderline personality disorder. The diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5 indicate that to be clinically diagnosed with BPD an individual must experience five or more symptoms, in a variety of contexts.

BPD Triggers

A trigger, in the context of BPD typically refers to something that precipitates the exacerbation of one’s BPD symptoms. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that “triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.” While BPD triggers can vary from person to person, there are some types of triggers that are more common in BPD, such as the following examples:

  • Perceived or real abandonment
  • Rejection of any kind
  • Loss of a job
  • Locations that invoke negative memories
  • Reminders of traumatic events
  • Ending a relationship

Many borderline personality disorder triggers arise from interpersonal distress. The symptoms that manifest because of borderline personality disorder often mimic those of other mental health disorders (e.g., histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, bipolar personality disorder, etc.). BPD symptoms pervasively interfere with an individual’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life.

 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, or give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Are The Symptoms Of Borderline Personality Disorder?

personality-disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, mental health disorder. It is a complex psychological condition that is characterized by pervasive instability in moods, emotions, behaviors, and interpersonal relationships which interfere with one’s ability to function in everyday life. It can be difficult to determine who will develop borderline personality disorder as the cause of BPD remains unknown. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) alludes to research that “suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing borderline personality disorder.” BPD typically develops in early adulthood, often with more severe symptoms occurring in the early stages of onset.

Symptoms & Diagnostic Criteria

Borderline personality disorder directly affects how one feels about him or herself, one’s behavior as well as how an individual can relate to others. It is not uncommon for people with BPD to feel extremely intense emotions for extended periods of time. This makes returning to a stable emotional baseline far more challenging, especially after experiencing an emotionally triggering event. According to the DSM-5 key signs and symptoms of BPD may include:  

  • Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization and devaluation, sometimes referred to as splitting
  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by family and friends
  • Impulsive behaviors resulting in dangerous outcomes (e.g., engaging in unsafe sex, reckless driving, abuse of drugs, etc.)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image, affecting one’s moods, relationships, goals, values, and/ or opinions
  • Self-harming behavior (e.g., suicidal threats)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and/ or boredom
  • Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability and/ or anxiety lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days long
  • Dissociative feelings
  • Intense, inappropriate, and/ or uncontrollable anger, typically followed by feelings of guilt and/ or shame

More specifically, the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5, indicates that to be clinically diagnosed with BPD an individual must experience five or more of the following symptoms, in a variety of contexts,

  1. Emotional instability
  2. Feelings of emptiness
  3. Efforts to avoid abandonment
  4. Impulsive behaviors
  5. Identity disturbances
  6. Inappropriate, irrational and/ or intense bouts of anger
  7. Transient paranoid and/ or dissociative symptoms
  8. Unstable interpersonal relationships
  9. Suicidal and/ or self-harming behaviors

Due to the quick changing nature of signs and symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder, it is notoriously known as a difficult to diagnose illness. The treatment for BPD often includes long-term participation in psychodynamic models of psychotherapy such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT was developed by Marsha M. Linehan in the late 1980s, as a means to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. It is an evidence-based psychotherapy that combines techniques from western cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psycho-educational modules, and eastern mindfulness-based practices to foster the systematic learning of new emotional coping skills. Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Main Cause Of Borderline Personality Disorder?

personality-disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) list ten standalone personality disorders based on similar characteristics, and each personality disorder is grouped into one of three categories (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). Borderline personality disorder (BPD) belongs to cluster B, which according to the Mayo Clinic are “characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior.” More specifically BPD is characterized by “a pervasive pattern of instability and hypersensitivity in interpersonal relationships, instability in self-image, extreme mood fluctuations, and impulsivity.” The symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder can pervasively interfere with an individual’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life. Most commonly, BPD develops in early adulthood, often with more severe symptoms occurring in the early stages of onset

BPD Triggers & Risk Factors

A trigger, in the context of BPD typically refers to something that precipitates the exacerbation of one’s BPD symptoms. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains “triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.” While BPD triggers can vary from person to person, there are some types of triggers that are more common in BPD, such as the following examples:

  • Perceived or real abandonment
  • Rejection of any kind
  • Loss of a job
  • Locations that invoke negative memories
  • Reminders of traumatic events
  • Ending a relationship

Many borderline personality disorder triggers arise from interpersonal distress. When it comes to understanding the specific cause of this disease, there is no solitary scientific reason behind why an individual develops borderline personality disorder. Rather there are several contributing factors that have been recognized as possibly playing a role in its development, potentially increasing one’s susceptibility to BPD. These factors may include, but are not limited to the following, provided by the National Institute of Mental Health

  • Genetics: people with a family history (e.g., parent, sibling, etc.) with BPD may be at increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder. Psychology Today assert that BPD is approximately five times more common among people with close biological relatives with BPD. 
  • Environmental factors: growing up in an unstable, neglectful, and/ or abusive environment could increase one’s risk for developing BPD. 
  • Brain factors: some studies have indicated that individuals diagnosed with BPD have structural and/ or functional abnormalities, specifically in the areas of the brain that reign emotional regulation and impulse control. Furthermore, deviations from typical serotonin (hormone that works to stabilize one’s mood, happiness, and feelings of well-being) production could increase one’s vulnerability to BPD. 

Although the above factors may contribute to the development of BPD, exposure to one or more risk factors does not indicate an individual will inevitably to go on to develop borderline personality disorder. Since the root of borderline personality disorder remains unknown, it is impossible to isolate a single cause that accurately and universally explains its development.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Is The Drug Of Choice For Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

What Drugs Are Commonly Prescribed For Depression?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental illness. Mental Health America explains that GAD “is characterized by six months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience.” According to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, a diagnosis of GAD currently implies chronic, excessive worry lasting at least six months and presenting with three of the possible six somatic or psychological symptoms (restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbance).

Psychiatric Times asserts “GAD typically presents in an episodic pattern of moderate improvement or remission and relapse characterized by a chronic and complicated clinical course.” The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most “common mental disorders in the United States, and can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life and disrupt important activities of daily living.” Although the exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder remains unknown, research has deduced that it likely involves a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. However, additional research is required to conclusively understand the precise cause of generalized anxiety disorder. In any given year, GAD affects 6.8 million adults, which is equal to 3.1% of the U.S. population, and women are twice as likely to be affected.

Treatment: Psychotherapy and Medication

GAD is a chronic condition that does not yet have a universally recognized cure. Nevertheless, depending on the severity of an individual’s GAD symptoms, it can be effectively treated. The two main treatments for generalized anxiety disorder include psychotherapy and medication. There are many psychotherapeutic treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the common therapeutic modalities incorporated into one’s treatment plan for generalized anxiety disorder could include one or more of the following: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and/ or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). There are several different types of medications that can be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, including:

  • Antidepressants: used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); examples include Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor XR (venlafaxine), and Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Azapirones: mild anti-anxiety medications, suitable for long-term use; example Buspirone 
  • Benzodiazepines: fast-acting medications intended for short-term, sporadic use; examples include Xanax (alprazolam), Rivotril (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Anti-convulsants/ antipsychotic medications: less frequently used, but approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder; example Stelazine (trifluoperazine) 

The first-line treatment for GAD, which could be referred to as the drug of choice or the initial medication prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Is The Best Antidepressant For GAD?

What Is The Best Antidepressant For GAD?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental illness. The Mayo Clinic characterizes GAD as “severe ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities.” While experiencing bouts of anxiety is natural, experiencing persistent and debilitating anxiety may be indicative of GAD. The exact cause for developing generalized anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research has shown that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors. When posed with the question: What is the best antidepressant for a GAD? There is no universal answer. The best antidepressant medication will depend on each person’s distinct needs.

Types of Medications for GAD

There are several types of antidepressant medications, each with respective risks, benefits, and appropriate uses, which include the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): work by slowing the reabsorption of serotonin (the neurotransmitter known to help with mood regulation and anxiety) in one’s brain. Common examples of SSRIs that may be used to treat GAD include, but are not limited to:
    • Celexa (citalopram)
    • Lexapro (escitalopram)
    • Prozac (fluoxetine)
    • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): work by reducing the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine in one’s brain. They can be prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, and some chronic pain conditions. Common examples of SNRIs that may be used to treat GAD include:
    • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
    • Effexor XR (venlafaxine)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): are prescribed less frequently as they are an older class of antidepressants that can cause more side effects than other options. Some examples of TCAs that may be used to treat GAD include:
    • Tofranil (imipramine)
    • Elavil (amitriptyline)
    • Pamelor (nortriptyline) 
  • Benzodiazepines: a type of sedative that alleviates muscle tension and can reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. They are often prescribed to help manage symptoms associated with short-term anxiety. Common examples of benzodiazepines that may be used to treat GAD include:
    • Xanax (alprazolam)
    • Valium (diazepam)
    • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
    • Ativan (lorazepam)

There are a variety of treatment options for individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. As is true with taking any type of medication there are associated risks. The specific risks will vary from person to person, as they will depend on several contributing factors (e.g., the individual’s health history, the presence of any additional mental health ailments, substance abuse issues, genetics, etc.). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires antidepressant medications to clearly display a black box warning indicating the possibility of increased suicidal thoughts and behaviors when taken by some individuals under the age of 25. Antianxiety medication can be incredibly effective in reducing one’s symptoms associated with a generalized anxiety disorder when taken exactly as prescribed. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Is GAD A Serious Mental Illness?

Is GAD A Serious Mental Illness?

Yes; generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a serious mental illness that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It is characterized by “chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience.” While experiencing bouts of anxiety is natural, experiencing persistent and debilitating anxiety may be an indication that something is awry. The exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder remains unknown; however, research has deduced that it likely involves a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Winchester Hospital identifies several known risk factors that can increase one’s propensity for developing GAD, such as:

  • Family history of anxiety disorders
  • Medical conditions, as people with chronic illness, have a greater risk of GAD
  • Substance abuse
  • History of stressful life events (e.g., traumatic event, childhood abuse or neglect, divorce, etc.)

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most “common mental disorders in the United States, and can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life and disrupt important activities of daily living.”

Signs and Symptoms

There are a variety of common signs and symptoms associated with GAD. The signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can present in any combination with varying levels of severity. The Mayo Clinic provides examples, some of which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Overwhelming worry and fear
  • Isolation 
  • Agitation
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dysphoria
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Tension
  • Anxiety 

The diagnostic criterion provided in the DSM-5 for GAD is somewhat different for adults and children. An adult is diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder when at least three of the above symptoms persist for a minimum of six months. In younger people, however, only one symptom is needed for diagnosis, provided it has been exhibited regularly spanning over a period of six months. 

The Treatment Process

The two main treatments for GAD include psychotherapy and medication, and they are not mutually exclusive. There are several different types of medications that can be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, including:

  • Antidepressants: used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); examples include Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor XR (venlafaxine), and Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Azapirones: mild anti-anxiety medications, suitable for long-term use; example Buspirone 
  • Benzodiazepines: fast-acting medications intended for short-term, sporadic use; examples include Xanax (alprazolam), Rivotril (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Anti-convulsant/ antipsychotic medications: less frequently used, but approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder; example Stelazine (trifluoperazine) 

There are many psychotherapeutic treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the common therapeutic modalities incorporated into one’s treatment plan for generalized anxiety disorder could include one or more of the following: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and/ or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). Every person is unique and will respond distinctly to the various treatment options available. In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

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