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High Success Rate For Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Last updated: January 9, 2020


High Success Rate For Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) image

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO research

A recent study by University Of Toronto researchers has found that not only can GAD sufferers make a full recovery, 40 percent go on to have excellent mental health, with high levels of life satisfaction and happiness.

Furthermore, after treatment, almost 60% had no other mental illness or addiction issues, such as suicidal thoughts, substance dependence, a major depressive disorder or a bipolar disorder, in the past year.

"We were so encouraged to learn that even among those whose anxiety disorders had lasted a decade or longer, half had been in remission from GAD for the past year and one-quarter had achieved excellent mental health and well-being," says Esme Fuller-Thomson, lead author of the study. Fuller-Thomson is Director of the University of Toronto's Institute for Life Course and Aging and Professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and the Department of Family & Community Medicine.

"This research provides a very hopeful message for individuals struggling with anxiety, their families and health professionals. Our findings suggest that full recovery is possible, even among those who have suffered for many years with the disorder," she says.

This research echoes our findings that those who work at anxiety disorder recovery succeed and can go on to live wonderful anxiety disorder-free lives.

This research also confirms our observations that those who incorporate religious and spiritual beliefs into their recovery increase the likelihood of having better mental health outcomes than those who don’t.

"Other researchers have also found a strong link between recovery from mental illness and belief in a higher power," reports Fuller-Thomson.

The most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder is with the combination of good self-help information, therapy, and support.

If you are interested in overcoming anxiety disorder and its symptoms, our Recovery Support area contains a wealth of important self-help information, and our professional anxiety disorder therapists are well equipped and have years of experience helping people overcome the many classifications of anxiety disorder, including GAD.



You can read the press release for this research below:


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Some surprisingly good news about anxiety

Recovery rates are high: A recent study finds seven in ten Canadians with a history of generalized anxiety disorder are free of the disorder and 40% are in excellent mental health, with high levels of life satisfaction and happiness

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

TORONTO, ON - Anxiety disorders are the most common type of psychiatric illness, yet researchers know very little about factors associated with recovery. A new University of Toronto study investigated three levels of recovery in a large, representative sample of more than 2,000 Canadians with a history of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

The study reports that 72% of Canadians with a history of GAD have been free of the mental health condition for at least one year. Overall, 40% were in a state of excellent mental health, and almost 60% had no other mental illness or addiction issues, such as suicidal thoughts, substance dependence, a major depressive disorder or a bipolar disorder, in the past year.

The definition of excellent mental health sets a very high bar. To be defined in excellent mental health, respondents had to achieve three things: 1) almost daily happiness or life satisfaction in the past month, 2) high levels of social and psychological well-being in the past month, and 3) freedom from generalized anxiety disorder and depressive disorders, suicidal thoughts and substance dependence for at least the preceding full year.

"We were so encouraged to learn that even among those whose anxiety disorders had lasted a decade or longer, half had been in remission from GAD for the past year and one-quarter had achieved excellent mental health and well-being," says Esme Fuller-Thomson, lead author of the study. Fuller-Thomson is Director of the University of Toronto's Institute for Life Course and Aging and Professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and the Department of Family & Community Medicine.

"This research provides a very hopeful message for individuals struggling with anxiety, their families and health professionals. Our findings suggest that full recovery is possible, even among those who have suffered for many years with the disorder," she says.

Individuals who had at least one person in their lives who provided them with a sense of emotional security and wellbeing were three times more likely to be in excellent mental health than those without a confidant.

"For those with anxiety disorders, the social support that extends from a confidant can foster a sense of belonging and self-worth which may promote recovery" says co-author Kandace Ryckman, a recent graduate of University of Toronto's Masters of Public Health.

In addition, those who turned to their religious or spiritual beliefs to cope with everyday difficulties had 36% higher odds of excellent mental health than those who did not use spiritual coping. "Other researchers have also found a strong link between recovery from mental illness and belief in a higher power," reports Fuller-Thomson.

The researchers found that poor physical health, functional limitations, insomnia and a history of depression were impediments to excellent mental health in the sample.

"Health professionals who are treating individuals with anxiety disorders need to consider their patients' physical health problems and social isolation in their treatment plans" says Ryckman.

The researchers examined a nationally representative sample of 2,128 Canadian community-dwelling adults who had a generalized anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. The data were drawn from Statistics Canada's Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health. This research was published online ahead of press this week in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Research contact information:
Prof. Esme Fuller-Thomson
Professor & Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair
Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work &
Institute for Life Course & Aging
University of Toronto
Cell: 416-209-3231
Email: esme.fuller.thomson@utoronto.ca


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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


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