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.
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.
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#: 
March, 2007
Authored by: 
Brian R McAvoy