A research study by the University of Toronto saw positive results while analyzing the three defined levels of recuperation in patients with a history of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The study was done on 2128 adults who had the disorder at some point in their lives. It was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, shortly after being posted online.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD is characterized by a tenacious and excessive obsession and worry about a number of different things. Patients with GAD may be overly concerned about disasters, family, money or any other daily life issue.
The condition affects about 6.8 million adults ~ 3.1% of the U.S. population annually. The disorder develops gradually, eventually turning into an obsessive behavior that is difficult to manage, for the patient as well as the people around him. Although no particular cause of the disease is known yet, it’s considered to be a result of biological factors, life experiences, and family background.
The study, done on 2000 adults from Canada with a history of the disorder, showed that 72% of the subjects presented no signs of the disease in the past year. Collectively, 40% were in a sublime mental state and 60% had no episodes of mental illness, involving suicidal thoughts, drug abuse, bipolar disorder or depression in the past year.
The exact definition of “excellent mental health’’ is not known, however, the three main conditions to be satisfied for the mind to in an optimal state are defined as:
- Regular feelings of happiness and content in the previous month
- ‘Social and psychological well-being’ in the past 30 days
- No episodes or symptoms of GAD or any other mental disorder for a year
According to Esme Fuller-Thomson, lead researcher for the study and Director of University of Toronto’s Institute for Life Course and Aging, “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”.
She further added, “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”.
The study also showed that the patients with someone to rely on – basically a reliable caretaker, who instilled a sense of protection in them, showed three times more improvements in the overall mental health as compared to those who didn’t.
Kandace Ryckman, the study’s co-author, said, “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”.
He added, “Health professionals who are treating individuals with anxiety disorders need to consider their patients’ physical health problems and social isolation in their treatment plans”.
Furthermore, patients who turned to their spiritual or religious beliefs to deal with everyday hurdles were at a 36% chance of better mental health than those who didn’t. Thomspon stated, “Other researchers have also found a strong link between recovery from mental illness and belief in a higher power”.