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Pharmacotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder in adults

Alexander Bystritsky, MD, PhD
Section Editor
Murray B Stein, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worry and anxiety that are difficult to control, cause significant distress and impairment, and occur on more days than not for at least six months [1].

GAD is a relatively common disorder, most often with onset during adulthood and a chronic course [2-5]. GAD can lead to significant impairments in role functioning, diminished quality of life, and high healthcare costs [6,7]. The disorder can be effectively treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two modalities.

This topic addresses pharmacotherapy for GAD. The epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, and diagnosis of GAD are described separately, as is psychotherapy for GAD. Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents is also described separately. (See "Generalized anxiety disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis" and "Psychotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder in adults" and "Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and course" and "Pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents" and "Psychotherapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents".)

Complementary and alternative treatments for anxiety symptoms and disorders are also discussed separately. (See "Complementary and alternative treatments for anxiety symptoms and disorders: Herbs and medications" and "Complementary and alternative treatments for anxiety symptoms and disorders: Physical, cognitive, and spiritual interventions".)


Our approach to selecting among treatments for generalized anxiety disorder, including the use of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy, is discussed separately. (See "Approach to treating generalized anxiety disorder in adults".)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Apr 25, 2016.
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