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Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Practical Assessment and Management - Article

ABSTRACT: Generalized anxiety disorder is common among patients in primary care. Affected patients experience excessive chronic anxiety and worry about events and activities, such as their health, family, work, and finances. The anxiety and worry are difficult to control and often lead to physiologic symptoms, including fatigue, muscle tension, restlessness, and other somatic complaints. Other psychiatric problems (e.g., depression) and nonpsychiatric factors (e.g., endocrine disorders, medication adverse effects, withdrawal) must be considered in patients with possible generalized anxiety disorder. Cognitive behavior therapy and the first-line pharmacologic agents, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are effective treatments. However, evidence suggests that the effects of cognitive behavior therapy may be more durable. Although complementary and alternative medicine therapies have been used, their effectiveness has not been proven in generalized anxiety disorder. Selection of the most appropriate treatment should be based on patient preference, treatment success history, and other factors that could affect adherence and subsequent effectiveness.

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