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Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder -- Diagnosis and Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder? continued...

Biofeedback is another helpful tool. In a series of sessions with a therapist, you watch your own brain-wave patterns on an electroencephalograph and gradually learns to control the waves. This teaches you to achieve a more relaxed state at will. Practitioners estimate that after about a dozen sessions, you will be able to exert control over mental activity without the help of the therapist or monitoring instrument.

Lifestyle Modifications to Alleviate Anxiety

Daily exercise can be another helpful treatment for anxiety symptoms. If you find that exercise works for you, push yourself to go for brisk walks or undertake an active sport that you enjoy. Get your heart rate into the target range for your age for at least 30 minutes each time you exercise.

Since anxiety is often accompanied by shallow breathing, deep breathing exercises can also be helpful. Try the following form of yoga breathing: 

  • Lie on your back in a comfortable place. 
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, using your diaphragm to suck air into your lungs while allowing your abdomen to expand. (Put your hand on your abdomen just below the navel to make sure the abdomen is being pushed up and out by the diaphragm.) After the abdomen is expanded, continue to inhale as deeply as possible. 
  • When you breathe out, reverse the process: Contract the abdomen while exhaling slowly and completely. 
  • Repeat several times.

Progressive relaxation is another helpful technique. It begins by tensing and then relaxing one part of the body, usually beginning with the toes. When this part of the body is relaxed, another part of the body is tensed and relaxed until the entire body is free of tension.

Relaxing visualization can also help. A therapist or meditation trainer suggests relaxing images for a person to hold in mind. Once the image is in place, the person imagines soothing sensations such as pleasant scents and sounds. Eventually people can learn to do this themselves when they anticipate -- or find themselves in -- stressful situations.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 28, 2014
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