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Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Nov 5

Medications may have a role in the treatment of anxiety disorders in some circumstances. Therapy, alone or in combination with medicine, is the most effective treatment choice for many people. The reason for this is that, unlike medicine, counseling equips you with the skills to control your anxiety both now and in the future.

To treat anxiety, several therapeutic strategies have been created, ranging from psychoanalytic approaches to the most recent cognitive behavioral therapies.

Anxiety Disorders: What You Need to Know

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 19 percent of adults in the United States and 31% of teenagers aged 13 to 18 experience anxiety each year (NIMH).

The following are some of the most common forms of anxiety disorders that can be addressed using therapeutic approaches:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a kind of obsessive-compul (OCD)
  • Phobias
  • Anxiety disorder with symptoms of generalized anxiety (GAD)
  • Anxiety about social situations (SAD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety illness that occurs (PTSD)

The fundamental mechanisms that drive disorders frequently follow a similar pattern, regardless of the individual condition. People with anxiety are more likely to respond violently to unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and events, and they may strive to control their reactions by avoiding triggers. Unfortunately, avoiding anxieties and worries in this way just helps to strengthen them. To assist you control your anxiety, most current methods of treatment address negative thinking and avoidance.


Anxiety Treatment Options

All therapy techniques have the same goal: to help you understand why you feel the way you do, what your triggers are, and how you may modify your reaction to them. Some forms of anxiety therapy even teach you how to use practical skills to help you reframe your negative thoughts and improve your habits.

Because anxiety disorders are so varied, treatment is tailored to your unique symptoms and diagnosis. It can be done by a person, a family, a couple, or a group. The frequency and duration of your sessions with your therapist will be determined by your unique symptoms and diagnosis.

Anxiety treatment is used by psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health practitioners in a variety of ways. The type of treatment you receive is partly determined by your diagnosis and the degree of your symptoms.


Anxiety Therapy


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

The most extensively used therapy for anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It has been shown to be useful in the treatment of SAD, GAD, phobias, and panic disorders, among other illnesses, according to research.

CBT is based on the idea that your ideas, not your actual situation, influence how you feel and act. CBT's purpose is to discover and understand your negative thinking and inefficient behavior patterns, and then replace them with more realistic ideas, behaviors, and coping methods.

During this time, your therapist will function as a coach, teaching you effective coping methods. You could, for example, think in "black-and-white" terms, assuming that everything is either evil or nice. Instead, you'd replace such ideas with the more realistic experience of various shades of grey in between.

Using these tactics takes time and experience. You may learn to utilize the coping strategies you learned in CBT to manage fear, panic, and concern after you start to understand your anxiety and triggers.

Exposure Therapy

One of the most frequent CBT strategies for treating a number of anxiety disorders, including particular phobias, SAD, and PTSD, is exposure treatment. The core principle of exposure therapy is that facing your fears head-on is the best way to overcome them.

Your therapist will gradually introduce you to anxiety-inducing things or situations during exposure therapy. This is frequently accomplished through the use of a technique known as "systematic desensitization," which entails three steps:

  • Relax: To help you cope with anxiety, your therapist will teach you relaxation techniques. Progressive muscular relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, and guided visualization are all examples of relaxation training.
  • List: Make a list of your anxiety-inducing triggers and rate them by intensity.
  • Expose: In this final stage, you'll progressively work your way through the anxiety-provoking things or situations you've highlighted, including relaxation methods as needed.

Your psychologist can expose you to your anxiety-provoking stimuli in a variety of ways. The following are the most common:

  • Imaginal exposure: You will be advised to vividly visualize your anxiety-provoking object or circumstance in this sort of exposure.
  • In vivo exposure: This strategy involves confronting your anxiety-inducing object or circumstance in a real-life setting. A person with social anxiety can be asked to deliver a speech in front of an audience as a result of this sort of exposure.
  • Virtual reality exposure: When in vivo exposure is not possible, virtual reality can be employed in some instances. Virtual reality treatment combines components of in vivo and imaginal exposure with the use of technology. This strategy has shown to be very beneficial for troops and those suffering from PTSD.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a kind of CBT that is extremely successful. DBT was originally developed to address borderline personality disorder (BPD), but it is now used to treat a wide range of issues, including anxiety.

DBT focuses on assisting you in developing a "dialectical" (opposite) perspective, acceptance, and transformation. You'll learn to accept your anxiety while also actively attempting to alter it during DBT treatment. It's akin to appreciating yourself as you are but still attempting to improve yourself.

Treatment with DBT teaches four important skills:

  • Connecting with the present moment and noticing passing thoughts (such as worry) without being governed by them is what mindfulness is all about.
  • When confronted with a difficult scenario, you must be able to manage your anxiety.
  • Effectiveness in interpersonal relationships: Knowing when to say no or when to ask for what you require
  • Emotion regulation: Keeping anxiety under control before it spirals out of hand.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Another type of treatment that has been demonstrated to be useful for a range of anxiety problems is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). ACT is recognizing your own values and then behaving in ways that reflect those ideals.


Art Therapy

Art therapy is an experiential, nonverbal treatment. It entails either expressing and processing emotion via visual art (painting, sketching, sculpture) or practicing mindfulness and relaxation through art. Although it may be used on its own, it's most typically utilized in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities like CBT.

More study is needed to demonstrate its effectiveness in lowering anxiety symptoms because it is a newer method of therapy.


Anxiety symptoms, according to this Freudian concept, represent unconscious tensions. The goal of psychoanalytic therapy is to help people overcome their problems. In psychoanalysis, you and your therapist investigate your ideas, worries, and wants in order to get a better understanding of yourself and to alleviate anxiety. This is one of the most thorough types of treatment; identifying patterns in your thinking might take years.

Although the words "psychoanalysis" and "psychodynamic treatment" are frequently interchanged, psychoanalysis is a subset of psychodynamic therapy.

Interpersonal Therapy (IT)

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on social roles and relationships. In IPT, you'll work with your therapist to identify any interpersonal difficulties you might be dealing with, such as unresolved grief, disputes with family or friends, changes in job or social roles, and interpersonal problems. After that, you'll discover appropriate ways to express emotions and how to enhance your interpersonal interactions.

Although IPT was initially designed to treat serious depression, it can also be effective if your anxiety is largely related to your interpersonal connections, as it is with SAD.

What To Expect When Attending Therapy

A typical misconception about therapy is that you'll feel better right away. This isn't always the case. However, you often feel worse before you start to feel better. Surprisingly, worsening symptoms are frequently a sign of improvement. That makes logic when you think about it.

When you decide to seek help from a therapist, it's usually because you haven't been able to overcome your anxiety on your own. Therapy is a more in-depth examination of your anxiety and the factors that contribute to it. Anxiety levels may temporarily rise as a result of this.

Therapy should never be viewed as a panacea. It's a one-of-a-kind process for each person. The sort of treatment you require, the skills you gain, and the length of time you spend in therapy are all determined by your anxiety and the intensity of your symptoms.

It's critical to recognize that, while the process may not always seem pleasant, it will be well worth it in the end.


How To Maximize The Benefits Of Therapy

It might be difficult to make a shift. Being in anxiety treatment is no exception. However, if you stick with it, you should see some progress.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your therapy and seeing results:

  • Don't act as though everything is OK
  • Pose inquiries
  • Anything and everything should be shared with your therapist
  • Work outside of your sessions
  • Concentrate on your objectives
  • Make healthy lifestyle decisions
  • Ascertain that you have a social support system in place
  • Reduce the stress in your life that is exacerbating your anxiety

As you can see, putting in effort and remaining present throughout the therapy process has the greatest impact on how well it works for you.