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Treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Treatment for general anxiety disorder (GAD) falls into 2 categories:
- Psychotherapy—This may include cognitive-behavioral therapy and other forms of treatment like relaxation techniques and biofeedback.
Since psychotherapy can be as effective as medicine, it is usually the first treatment that is tried. Researchers have found that cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in treating GAD. The combination of psychotherapy with medicine tends to be more effective than either treatment alone.
Although medical care can help most people with GAD, treatment success varies from person to person. Some experience an improvement after only a few months of treatment, while with others it may take a year or more. Treatment can be complicated by having another condition at the same time, such as substance abuse, depression, or other anxiety disorders.
Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and specially trained primary care providers are trained to treat GAD. If your doctor doesn't have special training, ask for the name of a doctor or counselor who does.
Treatment involves the following:MedicationsOther treatmentsAlternative and complementary therapies
Currently, surgical procedures are not a treatment option for GAD.
Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml. Update March 2016. Accessed January 13, 2017.
Chessick C, Allen M, et al. Azapirones for generalized anxiety. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;(3):CD006115.
Generalized anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114697/Generalized-anxiety-disorder. Updated October 13, 2016. Accessed January 13, 2017.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety and Depression Association of America website. Available at: https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad. Updated December 2016. Accessed January 13, 2017.
Hunot V, Churchill R, et al. Psychological therapies for generalised anxiety disorder. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(1):CD001848.
Kapczinski F, Lima MS, et al. R. Antidepressants for generalized anxiety disorder. Cochrane Database. Syst Rev. 2003;(2):CD003592.
Stern T, Rosenbaum J, et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.
- Reviewer: Adrian Preda, MD
- Review Date: 12/2016
- Update Date: 10/09/2019