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Talking to Your Doctor About Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About GAD
  • Tell your doctor about your constant worry and tension, or any other signs of GAD, such as aches and pains for no reason, or trouble sleeping.
  • Tell your doctor if these problems keep you from doing everyday things and living your life.
  • Ask for a checkup to check for other illnesses.
  • Ask your doctor if they have helped other people with GAD. Special training helps doctors treat people with GAD. If your doctor doesn't have special training, ask for the name of a doctor or counselor who does.
About Treatment Options
  • What treatment options are available for GAD?
  • If your doctor prescribes medicine, ask:
    • How long will it take to work?
    • What benefits can I expect?
    • What side effects should I watch for?
  • Can you recommend a counselor who treats people with GAD?
  • If you decide to try counseling, interview counselors and find one with whom you feel comfortable discussing your problems. You should ask the counselor about:
    • Their training and experience in treating anxiety disorders
    • Their basic approach to treatment
    • The length of treatment
    • The length and frequency of treatment sessions
    • What health insurance is accepted
    • Fee schedules and sliding scale fees to accompany various financial circumstances
About Lifestyle Changes

Ask your doctor or counselor about lifestyle changes that could help you reduce your anxiety and stress symptoms. Examples may include:

  • Diet
  • Caffeine and alcohol use
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Relaxation and stress management techniques
  • Exercise
About Your Outlook
  • What are my chances of recovering from GAD with treatment? Without treatment?
  • Will I have a recurrence of GAD and related conditions? What can I do to prevent these?

Revision Information

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org/GettingHelp/AnxietyDisorders/GAD.asp . Accessed October 29, 2008.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad.shtml . Update June 2008. Accessed October 29, 2008.

  • Hahn RK, Reist C, et al. Psychiatry . Laguna Hills, CA: Current Clinical Strategies Publishing; 2006.