Psychological therapy based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) principles is effective in reducing anxiety symptoms for short-term treatment of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

Clinical question: 
How effective are psychological therapies, such as CBT, psychodynamic therapy and supportive therapy, compared with treatment as usual/waiting list (TAU/WL) and compared to one another, for patients with GAD?
Bottom line: 
Psychological therapy based on CBT principles is effective in reducing anxiety symptoms and secondary symptoms of worry and depression for short-term treatment of GAD (NNT=5). It is not clear whether patients attending for CBT sessions are more likely to have reduced anxiety at the end of treatment than patients attending for psychodynamic therapy or supportive therapy.
Caveat: 
Patients who attend for group CBT and older patients are more likely to drop out of therapy. None of the studies looked at the long-term effectiveness of CBT (the mean length of trial was 8 months), or reported on the possible side-effects or acceptability of psychological therapies.
Context: 
GAD is a common disorder, characterised by excessive worry or anxiety about everyday events and problems. It is estimated to have a lifetime prevalence of 5.1% with a 12 month prevalence measurement of 3.1%.
Review CD#: 
CD001848
PEARLS No: 
24
Date: 
March, 2007
Authored by: 
Brian R McAvoy