How can medication help treat symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner
Medications are used to relieve anxiety and depression associated with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is believed that brain chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, play a role in causing GAD, and antidepressants work by affecting neurotransmitters and bringing them into a normal balance. Anti-anxiety medication is used similarly to help relieve anxious feelings and reduce worry. Doctors recommend using therapy in conjunction with medication to treat GAD.
When therapy alone does not work to reduce symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), medication is also prescribed. While medication cannot cure the disorder, it can help treat its symptoms. Several types of medications, including antidepressant medications, beta blockers, and anxiolytics (benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines) are commonly prescribed for GAD.

If you begin taking a medication for GAD, it does not mean that you will have to take it forever. However, patients treated for at least six months do better than those who discontinue its use after several weeks. For many people, discontinuing the medication causes the symptoms of anxiety to return. A health care professional can develop the best treatment plan to follow.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.