Worry is a normal response to uncertainty. Education, empathetic support, reassurance, and passage of time usually ameliorate ordinary worries. However, these common-sense strategies for dealing with transient worries often prove ineffective for patients with excessive worry, many of whom meet the criteria for disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. Evidence-based treatments for such disorders can assist family physicians in management of persistent worry as a self-perpetuating habit across diagnostic categories. Antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy are effective treatments for various disorders characterized by excessive worry. Cognitive behavioral strategies that may be adapted to primary care contacts include education about the worry process, repeated challenge of cognitive distortions and beliefs that underpin worry, behavioral exposure assignments (e.g., scheduled worry periods, worry journals), and learning mindfulness meditation.
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