NICE updates guidelines on anxiety

Patients with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) should not be treated with drugs as first line treatment, updated NICE guidelines state.

NICE suggests GPs should consider individual non-facilitated self-help, through individual guided self-help or psycho-educational groups as first-line treatment. If this is not effective, medication, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or applied relaxation should be considered second line.

Dr Tim Kendall, a leading expert in psychiatry said people with GAD will be able to choose from a range of self help interventions, including two psychological treatments and some antidepressants. 'The guideline emphasises choice and patient preference, and is much clearer that there are some old treatments that just don’t work,' he said.

The partial update of NICE's guideline builds on the original 2004 document. It introduces a number of new recommendations, many of which are aimed at improving the diagnosis and management of GAD in adults.

Professor John Cape, Head of Psychological Therapies at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust commented: 'GAD is the most common mental health disorder in the UK and yet is poorly recognised so two thirds of people with GAD receive no treatment. Effective treatments are available, especially self-help approaches, CBT and drug treatments which each can be best for different people.'

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