Diagnosis: Shortcut to Calm

Avant-garde treatment for anxiety disorders

By Lauren F. Friedman, published September 1, 2010 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

In any given year, 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. Symptoms vary widely, but usually include excessive, irrational fear and dread. “Anxiety disorders are much more common than depression and often just as disabling,” says Peter Roy-Byrne, M.D., chief of psychiatry at the University of Washington.

Many anxiety sufferers lack access to specialists and instead receive ad-hoc care from clinics or their primary care physicians. But upgrading and standardizing treatment within the existing framework may mean better outcomes for more people. Roy-Byrne’s team developed a streamlined care model, dubbed Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management (CALM). In a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 51 percent of patients enrolled in CALM remitted, compared to 37 percent of those receiving their usual care. The new treatment’s efficacy questions some old assumptions about treating anxiety disorders.