What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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Generalized anxiety disorder cognitive behavioral therapy, both often abbreviated as GAD and CBT, respectively, is a method of treating this anxiety condition. People suffering from generalized anxiety disorder will often find that they experience persistent worrisome thoughts that interfere with their daily life in a significant and disruptive way. These thoughts may be based on habitual thought patterns or behaviors that spur them along, even if the thoughts are not based on reality. Generalized anxiety disorder cognitive behavioral therapy, then, attempts to address the root cause of these issues, and teach sufferers new ways to think and behave to break these old, damaging habits.

People suffering from generalized anxiety disorder will likely experience symptoms that make it hard for them to live their daily lives because they are so preoccupied with fear and worry. They might have difficulty concentrating at work, keeping a relationship, or even getting enough sleep at night. They will often be focused on certain fears that may or may not be based on reality, or they may blow small worries or inconveniences way out of proportion. People suffering from this disorder may be incapable of recognizing these thought patterns, and will therefore begin to feel powerless to change them.


To that end, generalized anxiety disorder cognitive behavioral therapy is a method of psychotherapy that first assists patients in recognizing these habitual thoughts or behaviors, and then taking steps to change them. Patients might just begin by discussing the types of thoughts that are going through their minds when they feel anxious, and what triggers these thoughts. Identifying the habits is the first step to changing them, and the therapist can help the patient to do this. Once the patient has identified his or her thought patterns, or habits of reacting out of proportion to the situation at hand, the next step is to decide how to behave differently and start practicing.

As part of the treatment, the patient will generally be asked to practice or try a different way of behaving, or a simple method of stopping upsetting thoughts. For instance, the therapist might ask him or her to say the word "Stop" to himself, or to take a few deep breaths and count to ten, in order to interrupt the thought patterns. These are just a few basic examples, but over time, they can make a big difference in dealing with anxiety disorders. The therapist will also be able to assist the patient in getting to the root cause of the problem.



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