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Denton Regional Medical Center

Treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Treatment for general anxiety disorder (GAD) falls into 2 categories:

Since psychotherapy is more effective than medication, it is usually the first treatment that is tried. Researchers have found that cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in treating GAD. Medications have shown to work better than placebo. Most people benefit from a combination of therapies.

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.

Revision Information

  • Chessick C, Allen M, Thase M, et al. Azapirones for generalized anxiety. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;(3):CD006115.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety and Depression Association of America website. Available at: Accessed June 13, 2016.

  • Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Update March 2016. Accessed June 13, 2016.

  • Hunot V, Churchill R, Silva de Lima M, Teixeira V. Psychological therapies for generalised anxiety disorder. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(1):CD001848.

  • Kapczinski F, Lima MS, Souza JS, Schmitt 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.