Experts believe that the cause of generalized anxiety disorder is due to an imbalance of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, in the brain. SSRI antidepressant medications (Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro and Paxil) have been found to be effective in treating anxiety disorders. Beta blockers (Atenolol and Propranolol, most commonly used to treat hypertension) are also used to treat GAD. Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonpin) are fast acting sedatives that can significantly reduce GAD symptoms; however these medications can be addictive.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the psychotherapy of choice to treat GAD. The goal of CBT is to change/recondition the way a person thinks about, and then reacts to, a situation that makes them anxious or fearful. It is important to find a professional who is knowledgeable about anxiety disorders.
Many people find support groups helpful, as they can share their problems and experiences with other who are also suffering. Learning how to manage your stress through aerobic exercises and relaxation techniques can also help manage a person with GAD symptoms. There are also workbooks that can help individuals cope with GAD. Some studies have found that caffeine and over the counter cold remedies can worsen the symptoms of GAD. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medicines. Proper diet and adequate sleep routines are also important.
You may be dispatched to a call in which the reporting party or victim suffers from a generalized personality disorder. Your clue is in the way they will catastrophize the situation (believing that something is far worse than it actually is). Know that you will not be able to completely calm them down, no one can. However, try to take a few extra minutes to reassure him/her and offer some support and referrals.
About The Author:
Pamela Kulbarsh, RN, BSW has been a psychiatric nurse for over 25 years. She has worked with law enforcement in crisis intervention for the past ten years. She has worked in patrol with officers and deputies as a member of San Diego's Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) and at the Pima County Detention Center in Tucson. Pam has been a frequent guest speaker related to psychiatric emergencies and has published articles in both law enforcement and nursing magazines.