Can counselling assist those in Wellington with Generalised Anxiety Disorder? Research indicates that it can. We all experience times when we are anxious about work, exams, relationships, buying a new house etc. But what if you worry indiscriminately about everything? Anxiety is important as it motivates us to prepare for important life events, for example studying for exams, or working extra hard on a report. But what happens when the anxiety is unproductive, and you cannot stop worrying about everything? This may even happen when you know it is unproductive and know that it affects those around you. These are some of the features of Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Those with Generalised Anxiety Disorder may also experience physical symptoms; restlessness or feeling on edge, being constantly tired, having difficulty concentrating or the mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance.

Most people experience anxiety when preparing for an upcoming event like marriage or new employment. But when the big event is past we move on and forget about it. But with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), as soon as one crisis is over, the next crisis arises. Generally, those who suffer from GAD worry a lot about the little issues and events in life.

Statically about 3.1% of the population suffer from GAD in any one-year period. This is a significant number of people which makes GAD one of the most common anxiety disorders. Reports suggest that similar levels of GAD are found throughout the world. The main sufferers of GAD appear to be women, but this may only be representative of developed countries. For instance, in South Africa GAD is more common in men. The average age for the onset of GAD is 31 but most sufferers have experienced high levels of anxiety most of their lives. Once GAD develops it becomes chronic in most sufferers. There is a low chance of recovery from GAD and there is also a high risk of relapse. This suggests that like most anxiety disorders, GAD follows a chronic course of waxing and waning of symptoms.

There appears to be a generalised biological vulnerability to those who experience GAD. It also appears to run in families, but what is inherited is the tendency to become anxious rather than GAD itself. Research has shown that people who suffer from GAD are highly sensitive to a threat, and in particular, to a threat that has a personal relevance. The high sensitivity to threat may have arisen from early stressful experiences. The individual may have learned that the world is a dangerous and out of control place. Unfortunately, the reaction to threat is entirely automatic or unconscious.

The treatment for GAD can either be medication or psychological, both appear to be reasonably effective. The most common medication used to treat GAD are the Benzodiazepines and research suggests they offer some short term relief from symptoms. But these medications have serious side effects and it is recommended that you speak to your GP and obtain a clear understanding of their impact. Benzodiazepines are only recommended for short term use as there is a known psychological and physiological dependency. In the short term, psychological treatment appears to offer the same benefits as medication. Psychological treatment appears to be better in the long term than medication. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has been used to treat GAD. The anxieties and fears are provoked during therapy and the client is taught cognitive skills and other coping techniques to counteract and control the worry process.

Christopher Swane - Depression and Anxiety Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand