Achieving Remission In Generalized Anxiety Disorder
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.” 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. The general prevalence of GAD in children younger than eighteen years is between 5.7% and 12.8%. Although clinical and epidemiological data suggest that generalized anxiety disorder is a chronic illness, recent studies have produced contradictory evidence and clinical findings that indicate remission is possible.
While definitions of full remission vary, from a patient perspective, remission can be understood as “the elimination of depressive symptoms and a return to premorbid levels of functioning.” The treatment of GAD involves a sequential process of first resolving the acute, symptomatic anxiety and then maintaining a longer-term constant suppression of chronic anxiety. The two primary components of treatment for generalized anxiety disorder include psychotherapy and medication, and they are not mutually exclusive. At Pacific Teen Treatment, we offer a residential treatment program where we will create a nuanced treatment plan for each of our residents that carefully incorporates the best possible therapeutic methods and are specifically geared to each teen’s personal needs.
There are many different types of therapeutic modalities that could be incorporated into one’s treatment plan for generalized anxiety disorder, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). Some adolescents diagnosed with GAD may benefit from including medication into the treatment plan, in conjunction with various therapeutic methods. The different types of medications prescribed to treat GAD include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). If medication is necessary, at Pacific Teen Treatment, we utilize the leading experts in adolescent psychiatry, while also collaborating with our resident’s parents both for permission and continued involvement in the treatment process. Every young person is unique and will respond distinctly to the various treatment options available. In most cases, when working towards remission integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful results.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, in the long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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