Diagnosis and Management of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder in Adults

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder (PD) are among the most common mental disorders in the United States, and they can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life and disrupt important activities of daily living. Evidence suggests that the rates of missed diagnoses and misdiagnosis of GAD and PD are high, with symptoms often ascribed to physical causes. Diagnosing GAD and PD requires a broad differential and caution to identify confounding variables and comorbid conditions. Screening and monitoring tools can be used to help make the diagnosis and monitor response to therapy. The GAD-7 and the Severity Measure for Panic Disorder are free diagnostic tools. Successful outcomes may require a combination of treatment modalities tailored to the individual patient. Treatment often includes medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and/or psychotherapy, both of which are highly effective. Among psychotherapeutic treatments, cognitive behavior therapy has been studied widely and has an extensive evidence base. Benzodiazepines are effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, but their use is limited by risk of abuse and adverse effect profiles. Physical activity can reduce symptoms of GAD and PD. A number of complementary and alternative treatments are often used; however, evidence is limited for most. Several common botanicals and supplements can potentiate serotonin syndrome when used in combination with antidepressants. Medication should be continued for 12 months before tapering to prevent relapse.

Read the full article from American Family Physician here.