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NICE updates six year old guidance on chronic anxiety

Posted by shutah on January 28, 2011

26th January 2011

Guidance on managing generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults is being updated for the first time since 2004.

GAD is a common condition with chronic, excessive worry about a number of different events associated with heightened tension. It can vary in its severity and complexity for each person. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) says it is important to consider how each patient should be treated individually.

In a statement, Christine Carson, Programme Director for the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, says: “Since NICE published guidance on the condition in December 2004, new evidence has emerged about how to manage GAD in adults. Therefore this particular section of the guideline was prioritised for updating. The new recommendations include health professionals considering a diagnosis of GAD in patients presenting with anxiety or significant worry, and in those frequently attending primary care who have a chronic physical health problem, or do not have a physical health problem but are seeking re-assurance about somatic symptoms or are repeatedly worrying about a range of different issues.”

Updated recommendations include:

  • Recognition and communication of the diagnosis of GAD should occur as early as possible to help people understand the disorder and start effective treatment promptly
  • People with GAD, whose symptoms do not improve with education and active monitoring, should be offered one or more of the following as a first-line intervention, guided by the person’s preference: individual non-facilitated self-help, individual guided self-help or psycho-educational groups
  • Patients should not be offered an antipsychotic for the treatment of GAD in primary care
  • People with GAD with marked functional impairment or those whose symptoms have not adequately responded to low-intensity psychological interventions such as pure self-help, guided self-help and psycho-educational groups should be offered an individual high-intensity psychological intervention or a pharmacological intervention

An under-recognised condition

Dr Tim Kendall, Director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, Medical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist, Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust says: “Generalised anxiety disorder is a very common but under-recognised condition characterised by endless worrying, which results in substantial disability for many sufferers, affecting their capacity to work and to live fulfilled and meaningful lives. Many develop secondary disorders, such as panic and depression, and it’s much more common in people with chronic physical ill-health.”

He continued, “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. This is a really excellent and new piece of work produced with some of our top national clinical experts and really committed service users.”


Reacting to the new guidance, Catherine O’Neill, Services Manager at Anxiety UK tells us by email: “GAD is a particularly difficult disorder to live with as it is constantly on the sufferer’s mind, providing no respite for the sufferer. Anxiety UK is pleased that NICE has revised their guidance on GAD so people can be diagnosed more quickly and receive the help they need.”

She explained, “Anxiety UK knows that currently GAD sufferers often do not receive a formal diagnosis for many years and are often misdiagnosed, leading to a prolonged period of uncertainty. It is hoped that focusing on early detection will reduce this.

“We also approve NICE’s recognition of the importance of self-help in treating GAD. Peer support is extremely beneficial, not least because it reduces the social isolation that many sufferers experience, and our members’ feedback shows that self-help can be vital in managing GAD long term. Anxiety UK is pleased to see more robust guidance overall with an emphasis on patient choice at the centre.”



One Response to “NICE updates six year old guidance on chronic anxiety”

  1. Damien Woody said

    Excellent article. Also read in Findrxonline that anxiety is an excessive activation of the central nervous system that is accompanied by characteristic symptoms like psychic excitation, perspiration, restlessness, gastric malaise, respiratory difficulty, etc. Anxiety is a disagreeable emotional state that affects the social, familiar or labor mind and body like answer to stress or pressures, characterized by instability, insomnia, and irritability.

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