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Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition characterized by excessive, uncontrollable worry and fear about everyday events and activities. People with GAD experience persistent anxiety and worry that is not specific to any one situation, and it can affect a person's daily life, causing difficulties in work, school, or personal relationships.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating GAD. CBT focuses on identifying and changing the negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are contributing to the symptoms of GAD.

One of the core components of CBT for GAD is cognitive restructuring. This involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts and beliefs that are causing excessive worry, such as catastrophizing, or overgeneralizing, learning to identify and reframe them into a more realistic and balanced perspective.

Another component of CBT for GAD is relaxation training. This involves learning techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization to reduce physical symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle tension and rapid heartbeat.

CBT also focuses on exposure therapy which is the process of gradually exposing oneself to feared situations and learning to tolerate the anxiety they provoke. It can be done either in imagination or reality, and the process aims to help patients overcome the avoidance and fear of certain situations, by facing them and learning to manage the anxiety that arises.

Research has shown that CBT is effective in treating GAD. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that CBT was more effective than no treatment and as effective as medication for the treatment of GAD (Borkovec, 2002). Another study found that CBT led to significant improvements in symptoms of GAD compared to a waitlist control group (Roemer, 2002).

CBT is a safe and effective treatment for GAD and can be used alone or in combination with medication. If you are experiencing symptoms of GAD, it is important to talk to a qualified healthcare provider, such as a clinical psychologist, to determine the best course of treatment for you.


Borkovec, T. D., Alcaine, O., & Behar, E. (2002). Avoidance theory of worry and generalized anxiety disorder. In Generalized anxiety disorder: advances in research and practice (pp. 77-108).

Roemer, L., Orsillo, S. M., & Barlow, D. H. (2002). Generalized anxiety disorder: integrating cognitive-behavioral and pharmacological considerations. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(4), 397-405.

Chronic Worry: Services
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