At the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center in Silicon Valley/San Jose and Sacramento Valley/Roseville, we offer evidence-based therapy and counseling for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is like the common cold of the anxiety disorders. It is characterized by feeling stuck in worry thoughts and “What If” thinking. Generalized anxiety is defined as excessive anxiety and worry, occurring more days than not for at least six months, about a variety of everyday events or activities including health, money, family, or work. Generalized anxiety can feel like your worry is uncontrollable and you can’t make it stop. The content of your worries tends to be about things that could happen in the future, although the probability of it actually happening at any given time may be small. For example, some typical GAD worries include “My headache could mean I have a brain tumor,” “My teenager isn’t home yet. Maybe he got in an accident,” What if we have an earthquake?,” or “The economy is bad. What will I do if I lose my job?” Alternatively, you may also experience more realistic and probable worries, but get stuck in a cycle of worry without taking action. If action isn’t possible, you may resist accepting uncertainty and engage in excessive worry as a way of safeguarding yourself and/or your family from the perceived danger. You might think, “If I worry about this, then I’ll be prepared if it happens,” or “By worrying about this, I am preventing it from happening.”
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety
In addition to excessive worry, you may experience physical symptoms, including fatigue, muscle tension, head and neck pains, and gastrointestinal distress. You may often feel irritable, keyed up and tense, have trouble concentrating and/or have trouble falling or staying asleep.
Cognitive-Behavioral Model of Generalized Anxiety
The cognitive-behavioral model of generalized anxiety disorder views worry as an avoidance behavior to avoid emotional experiencing. You probably don’t want to feel fear, sadness and other normal but negative emotions so you may unwittingly use worry as a distraction tool. Unfortunately, the worry process itself creates anxiety on top of your original emotions and perpetuates the anxiety cycle. You may engage in excessive behaviors to reduce your worry such as insisting that your family members call you immediately when they arrive at their destination, being stingy in order to save as much money as possible for a “rainy” day, arriving to appointments extra early in case of traffic or doing excessive research if you or a family member has a health issue. Some parents with generalized anxiety can become overprotective and pass along the “anxiety” cycle by reinforcing fearful thinking in their children and trying to protect them from the disappointment of taking risks and making mistakes.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Generalized Anxiety
Cognitive behavior therapy for generalized anxiety typically includes some or all of the following therapy components:
- Education: Learn about the cognitive, physical, and behavioral components of worry, and the difference between helpful and unhelpful worry.
- Self-Monitoring: Track the details of your worry episodes (triggers, thoughts, action responses, and frequency, intensity, duration of anxiety and worry) to identify your worry patterns and guide the treatment plan.
- Relaxation: Diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga and other relaxation exercises can help relieve some of the physical symptoms that accompany generalized anxiety. Over time, regular practice of relaxation exercises can bring down your baseline state of anxiety so, when you do become physically aroused, it doesn’t feel as intense or out of control.
- Cognitive Strategies: Identify and change the thinking patterns that are maintaining your anxiety cycle, evaluate situations more realistically , solve day-to-day problems, tolerate uncertainty and decrease your use of worry to control negative outcomes. For long term change, you’ll need to test the beliefs you have about worry itself — such as “worry leads to greater certainty and control,” “worry is uncontrollable,” and “worry decreases the likelihood of bad events.”
- Behavioral Strategies: In a planned and gradual manner, start confronting your fears (in your imagination and in real life) to learn to be less afraid of these situations and to fully experience your emotions. By exposing yourself to your fears without avoiding or escaping from them, you will, paradoxically, gain more control over them and it will decrease your anxiety over time.
How to Get Help for Generalized Anxiety and Worry in San Jose/Saratoga and Sacramento/Roseville
The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley (San Jose/Saratoga) and Sacramento Valley (Roseville) specializes in anxiety therapy and counseling with adults, children and teenagers. Call (408) 384-8404 or Click to send an email for more information on how we can help you or your family members overcome your problems with generalized anxiety and worry.
Silicon Valley and Sacramento Valley Communities We Serve
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley offers evidence-based therapy for Anxiety, OCD and Eating Disorders near the following Silicon Valley/San Jose communities:
San Jose Therapy Counseling • Saratoga Therapy Counseling • Los Gatos Therapy Counseling • Monte Sereno Therapy Counseling • Cupertino Therapy Counseling • Campbell Therapy Counseling • Mountain View Therapy Counseling • Los Altos Therapy Counseling • Sunnyvale Therapy Counseling • Santa Clara Therapy Counseling
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Sacramento Valley offers evidence-based therapy for Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Eating Disorders near the following Sacramento Valley and Sierra communities:
Sacramento Therapy Counseling • Roseville Therapy Counseling • Rocklin Therapy Counseling • Granite Bay Therapy Counseling • Lincoln Therapy Counseling • Folsom Therapy Counseling • Citrus Heights Therapy Counseling • El Dorado Hills Therapy Counseling • Loomis Therapy Counseling • Grass Valley Therapy Counseling • Auburn Therapy Counseling
Call (408) 384-8404 or Click to send an email