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Generalized Anxiety Disorder Self-Monitoring

The Why and How of Self-Monitoring for GAD


Updated May 07, 2007

A key component of many forms of treatment for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is self-monitoring. Essentially, self-monitoring is the do-it-yourself process of documenting the levels of GAD symptoms. The following is a brief overview of this process, hopefully assisting people in doing this in conjunction with treatment or as a way to document problems before seeking help.

How This Can Help

The self-monitoring process can help for two reasons. First, it can help the person struggling with GAD to tune into the exact degree at which anxiety and worry is a part of life. Becoming more aware of this process is often eye-opening and can begin to highlight the areas and situations that create the most problems.

Second, self-monitoring helps establish a baseline level of symptoms as a way to monitor change. During the first week of treatment for GAD, the person may be worrying 65 percent of the day on average. After two weeks in treatment that level may be reduced to 40 percent, then 25 percent, and so on. Essentially, completing self-monitoring sheets (see next section) documents the levels of symptom change and can show that treatment has been successful.

Self-Monitoring Sheet

The most common way people use self-monitoring is by developing a sheet that they can complete daily or several times a day. An easy way to do this is to make a grid with columns for date, average anxiety, maximum anxiety, and the percentage of the day spent worrying. Make the rows the date, and complete the grid with numbers from a 1-10 scale with 10 being the most severe levels of anxiety. If you decide to begin self-monitoring, it is important to be consistent and honest with yourself. Source:

Barlow D.H. (Ed.)(2001). Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders (3rd Ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

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