Psychological therapies for common anxiety disorder not readily available in primary care settings

December 14, 2006

Psychological therapies are widely thought to be preferable to drug treatments for generalised anxiety disorders but frequently cannot be given because of time constraints, lack of services, and limited resources, state the authors of a Seminar in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Generalised anxiety disorder is a persistent and common disorder, in which the patient has unfocused worry and anxiety that is not connected to recent stressful events. The disorder is characterised by feelings of threat, restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbance, and tension, and symptoms such as palpitations, dry mouth, and sweating. Generalised anxiety disorder is best treated in primary care wherever possible and psychological treatments are preferable to drug treatments. However, Peter Tyrer (Imperial College, London) and David Baldwin (University of Southampton, UK) highlight the problem of their availability in such settings in their Seminar.

They state: "....that the necessary time and services, especially psychological therapies, are not readily available in such settings is a concern, and so treatment could be chosen according to what is available rather than what is best. Psychological therapies are widely thought to be preferable to drug treatments, but frequently cannot be given because of limited resources...For the immediate future, doctors in most western countries will probably prescribe drug treatment most commonly, irrespective of patient choice."
EMBARGO: 00:01H (UK time) Friday December 15, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H EST Thursday December 14, 2006.

Contact: Professor Peter Tyrer FRCP, Imperial College London, Department of Psychological Medicine, Charing Cross Campus, St Dunstan's Road, London, W6 8RP, UK. T) 020 7886 1648


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