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Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment Overview

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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • It’s important to see a healthcare provider—either your primary care provider or a behavioral health provider (psychologist, social worker)—to get a diagnosis and set up a treatment plan.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder is often best treated with a combination of talk therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication.
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Emergency Care

If you have thoughts or plans of hurting yourself, call 911 or 988 (the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline).

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All treatments for generalized anxiety disorder
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Read more about generalized anxiety disorder care options

When to see a healthcare provider

See a healthcare provider if you have symptoms of anxiety like excessive worry, restlessness, and trouble concentrating. Getting professional care is extremely important if your anxiety is preventing you from doing everyday activities, like going to work or school or caring for loved ones.

Getting diagnosed

  • A psychiatrist or mental health professional (a psychologist or licensed clinical social worker) will typically diagnose you based on your symptoms.
  • You may be asked to complete psychological questionnaires to help determine a diagnosis.

What to expect from your visit

There are a few types of medications that may be prescribed for GAD.

  • Antidepressants, which include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like paroxetine (Paxil) and escitalopram (Lexapro). Another class of antidepressants for treating GAD are serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR).
  • The anti-anxiety medication buspirone (Buspar) may also be prescribed to treat GAD symptoms.
  • While not prescribed often, sedatives called benzodiazepines may be recommended if you have moments of intense anxiety or a panic attack. These can be addictive, so they’re usually only given for brief periods.

It can be very helpful to see a mental health provider (psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, counselor) for talk therapy. One of the most effective approaches is called cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). You’ll learn how to change negative thoughts and develop strategies to manage your worries. A CBT provider may also talk to you about how to improve behaviors like your sleep routine, exercise, and having a balanced diet.

Prescription medications for GAD

  • SSRIs: paroxetine (Paxil), escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • SNRIs: duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
  • buspirone (Buspar)
  • Benzodiazepines: alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin)

Types of GAD providers

  • A primary care provider can sometimes prescribe medications and may refer you to a mental health professional.
  • A psychiatrist can help diagnose you and prescribe medications.
  • A psychologist or licensed clinical social worker can offer talk therapy.
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