There is no way to prevent generalized anxiety disorder. However, if you have already been diagnosed, you may be able to decrease your anxiety level by cutting down on caffeine, alcohol or other substances that might be triggering your symptoms.
If you have generalized anxiety disorder your doctor probably will treat you with a combination of medications and psychotherapy.
Three classes of medications typically are prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder:
Benzodiazepines - Examples are clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax). They are very safe, and often bring quick relief from the symptoms of anxiety. They may be used only during the first weeks of treatment while waiting for other medications, such as antidepressants, to start working. In some people, the medication eventually stops working because the body becomes accustomed to it. This is called tolerance. If you need to stop taking these drugs, it should be done gradually under a doctor's direction, because withdrawal reactions can occur.
Antidepressants - These are the main treatment, especially when anxiety is long lasting or when of the person also has depression. The drugs used to treat generalized anxiety disorder include the popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil), and the tricyclic antidepressants, such as nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor) and imipramine (Tofranil). They take several weeks to work, so a benzodiazepine often is prescribed to give relief during that time.
Buspirone (BuSpar) - Buspirone is an antianxiety drug that can be effective for generalized anxiety disorder. However, it is used much less frequently than the drugs listed above. Like antidepressants, it usually takes two to three weeks to begin working.
Psychotherapy A number of psychotherapy techniques may be helpful. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you recognize the unreasonableness of fearful thinking and teaches you techniques for controlling your symptoms. Psychodynamic, insight-oriented or interpersonal psychotherapy can help you sort out conflicts in important relationships or explore the history behind the symptoms.