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Posted: September 6th, 2023

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

References

Ansara E. D. (2020). Management of treatment-resistant generalized anxiety disorder. The mental health clinician, 10(6), 326–334. https://doi.org/10.9740/mhc.2020.11.326

Garakani, A., Murrough, J. W., Freire, R. C., Thom, R. P., Larkin, K., Buono, F. D., & Iosifescu, D. V. (2020). Pharmacotherapy of Anxiety Disorders: Current and Emerging Treatment Options. Frontiers in psychiatry, 11, .

Anxiety disorders, especially generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), can have a debilitating impact on an individual’s life, causing excessive worry and fear that interferes with their daily activities. Anxiolytic medications are critical for individuals with GAD as they help reduce anxiety and allow individuals to lead a normal life. However, the effectiveness of these medications can vary based on an individual’s history with the disorder and their symptoms. Healthcare providers must consider several factors before prescribing a specific medication for GAD.

One of the primary medications used to treat GAD is benzodiazepines, which includes diazepam and alprazolam. These medications work by enhancing the Gamma- Aminobutyric Acid receptors (GABA) in the central nervous system, generating an anxiolytic and sedative effect that helps individuals feel calm (Ansara, 2020). The use of benzodiazepines can be challenging as they may take some time to achieve therapeutic effects. Moreover, benzodiazepines can also be addictive due to their sedative effect, and their effectiveness in managing acute anxiety can vary.

Buspirone is another medication that is used to treat GAD. It binds itself to serotonin receptors in the brain, but unlike benzodiazepines, it lacks a sedative effect. While buspirone is effective in managing GAD, it may take some weeks to achieve therapeutic effects. Buspirone is also less effective than benzodiazepines in managing acute anxiety (Howe et al., 2022).

Antidepressants are also used to treat GAD. They work by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are important neurotransmitters. Antidepressants may take some time to be effective, but they are well-tolerated among most GAD patients. They are also the first line of treatment for many GAD patients since they can also generate a placebo effect among some patients (Garakani et al., 2020).

Choosing the right medication for an individual with GAD depends on several factors. These include the individual’s medical history, current symptoms, the presence of any comorbidities, and any medication allergies. For instance, if an individual has a history of substance abuse or is at high risk of addiction, benzodiazepines may not be the best option for them. Similarly, if an individual is at risk of suicidal ideation or has a history of depression, antidepressants may be a better option.

It is also important to note that anxiolytic medications may take time to have an effect, especially on individuals with higher GAD levels. In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend a combination of medications, such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants, to manage GAD effectively.

Aside from medication, there are several other treatment options available for individuals with GAD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that helps individuals manage their anxiety by teaching them coping strategies and techniques to change their negative thought patterns. CBT has been shown to be effective in managing GAD, and in some cases, it may be used in conjunction with medication.

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can also be helpful in managing GAD. These techniques help individuals relax and reduce their anxiety levels. Engaging in regular exercise has also been shown to be effective in managing GAD. Exercise helps reduce stress levels, improves mood, and promotes overall well-being.

Anxiolytic medications are critical for individuals with GAD as they help reduce anxiety and allow individuals to lead a normal life. However, the effectiveness of these medications can vary based on an individual’s history with the disorder and their symptoms. Healthcare providers must consider several factors before

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