OCD and GAD
Understanding Generalised Anxiety Disorder in relation to OCD
It is inevitable, especially with today’s society, that we will all experience anxiety at one time or another. However, when this lasts for a prolonged period (usually around the six-month mark) and falling into the persistent and excessive category, this can generally be defined as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
GAD is present in a person’s Psyche almost invariably, and unlike that of more acute anxiety disorders such as OCD, Phobias, and Panic Attacks, GAD is often described as obsessive worry, with a constant background noise of feeling anxious. Many people with GAD describe symptoms as feeling on edge for no apparent reason. Often, this lack of clarity as to what is precisely causing such distress only leads to further frustration and exasperation. It is not until symptoms become worse, that a person with GAD decides to access help. Often, the development of more acute anxieties and symptoms of burnout or depression are common factors that eventually lead someone with GAD to access support.
What causes GAD?
The causes of GAD are strictly not known. As is the same with many Psychological Disorders, it is a combination of biological and environmental factors, such as the sudden onset of stress. Examples include sudden bereavement, illness, relationship breakdown, and divorce, moving house, or troubles at work.
How common is GAD?
Around 3% of the general population experience GAD at any one time, although this is likely to be higher. Also, it is worth noting that many people who experience more acute fears such as panic disorders and OCD, may also feel that they experience some form of GAD alongside such conditions. Such symptoms can often make GAD very difficult to diagnose accurately.
How can our program help?
Some of the recommended therapies for treating GAD include Psychoeducation, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) and talking therapy, all of which are included in our treatment programs.
The cognitive element of our programs seem to be particularly effective when working with GAD, as we teach clients how to look at situations, past, present and future in a more positive way. Furthermore, identifying cognitive distortions, as well as learning how to change them proves very effective when trying to become more care free, and less anxious more generally. We have also noticed that the behavioural elements of our program can have a particularly positive impact on clients Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms as well as more generalized anxiety levels.
An active biological component of all anxiety disorders is that of the Amygdala, the fight or flight centre of the brain primarily responsible for producing adrenalin within the body. If a person learns how to manage and reduce the Amygdala’s activity, this will help relieve not only more acute fears such as those involved in OCD but also the more general concerns associated with GAD. For this reason, we find that almost all clients that learn how to manage their OCD symptoms also report a large reduction in generalised anxiety symptoms.