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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.100 n.1 Pretoria Jan. 2010




Generalized anxiety disorder across the lifespan: an integrative approach



Janine Juanita Benson-Martin



By Janine Juanita Benson-Martin, DPhil, LISW. Foreword by John HG Riskind. Pp. xvi + 182. $79.95. Springer. 2009. ISBN 978-0-387-89242-9.

General anxiety disorder, or GAD, has in the past been the neglected child of the anxiety disorders partly as a result of the 'waste-basket diagnosis' approach taken by DSM-III. However, there has been enormous growth in the understanding of anxiety disorders, including GAD, over the last decade or two. In this book, Michael E Portman, a clinical social worker who has specialised in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders takes the reader on a journey 'across the lifespan', to present current views of GAD in a rational and informed manner.

The book is divided into sections that include an historical overview and epidemiology, diagnosis and assessment, conceptual models, psychosocial treatments and pharmacotherapy. Further chapters explore assessment and treatment of children, adolescents and the elderly, prevention strategies, cultural considerations, and approaches to treatment-resistant GAD. The volume concludes with a section on future directions and recommendations. A lot of time is dedicated to evidence-based research outcomes, which the author skilfully summarises at the end of each subsection, adding at times, and aptly so, views on the clinical experience he has acquired with time.

As a newly qualified consultant in psychiatry, I found the publication to be exceptionally helpful, in that it gathers a range of empirical evidence and lays it out in a concise, cogent and readable manner. The appendices describing the assessment tools for adults, older adults, children and adolescents are especially useful. This book would appeal to psychiatrists, psychologists, and trainees in the field, as well as to general practitioners and family physicians who would benefit from up-to-date knowledge of this disabling, and sometimes difficult-to-treat condition.

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