Intended for healthcare professionals


Drug treatment for generalised anxiety disorder

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 11 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1216
  1. Toshi A Furukawa, professor
  1. 1Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine/School of Public Health, Kyoto, 606-8501 Japan
  1. furukawa{at}

More head to head trials are needed to confirm apparent differences in effectiveness

Generalised anxiety disorder is characterised by excessive worrying over everyday things and is associated with irritability; restlessness; difficulties in concentrating; and somatic symptoms such as muscle tension, fatigue, or sleeplessness. In the linked systematic review (doi:10.1136/bmj.d1199) Baldwin and colleagues assess the relative effectiveness and tolerability of different drugs in the treatments of patients with this disorder.1

Generalised anxiety disorder first appeared in the American diagnostic classification system in 1980 as a residual category after diagnostic criteria for more specific anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder had been delineated. Since then, conceptualisations of this disorder have been successively refined, and it is now generally recognised as an independent diagnostic entity. It can be distinguished from other, often coexisting, mental disorders, and its symptoms are uniquely associated with functional impairment and distress. Generalised anxiety disorder is one of the more common mental disorders in the general population, with 12 month prevalence estimates of around 3% and lifetime prevalence estimates of around 6%. It is also a common clinical diagnosis in primary care. …

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