Treating Anxiety Disorders
Wondering how to treat anxiety? Maybe you’re going through a difficult time in your life and it’s leaving you stressed out and anxious. Or maybe you are feeling this way, but you can’t figure out why. Either way, anxiety can make you miserable and interfere with normal thought processes and daily life. Read on for an overview of what you can do to reduce your anxiety and get your life back.
Self-help methods often do the trick if your anxiety is of the normal, everyday variety. You might be surprised how much better you feel after getting a massage, beginning a regular exercise program or eliminating caffeine and nicotine from your diet. It is also important to make sure you are getting enough rest. Lack of sleep can lower your anxiety threshold, making it easier to set you off. Controlled breathing exercises, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation can also help bring your anxiety down to manageable levels.
If these self-help methods of anxiety treatment don’t help, never fear. There are plenty of other options that work for most people suffering from anxiety disorders. Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, are known to be highly effective in reducing anxiety. There are also many medications that, when coupled with therapy, can help, too.
The first step in obtaining therapy is to find a good mental health provider – one whom you can trust and who is trained in treating anxiety disorders. Even your family doctor can be a good place to start. If he thinks your anxiety is beyond his scope of practice, he should be able to refer you to someone who can help. Mental health providers go by the names “psychologist,” “psychiatrist,” “social worker” or “counselor.”
Once you have found your trusted provider, she can determine what type of therapy will work best for your specific situation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on changing anxiety-provoking thought patterns into ones that are more positive and helpful. For example, someone with an extreme fear of germs can be taught that not all germs are bad, that some are actually beneficial and that it is not necessary to worry about them all the time.
Exposure therapy is often used to treat phobias. During exposure therapy, the patient is gradually exposed to whatever it is they are afraid of in larger and larger doses. Once they realize that nothing will happen upon exposure to their fear and that their fear isn’t grounded in reality, they are far less likely to be afraid of it.
When therapy alone isn’t enough to curb your anxiety, it may be time to discuss medications. Medications will not cure anxiety, but it will address the symptoms until therapy is successful in addressing the cause of the anxiety. It is also important to note that each person responds to medication differently, and that it may take some experimentation to find the right medication for you.
Antidepressants and benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed drugs for treating anxiety. Antidepressants begin working after just one dose, but it may take up to 6 weeks for their full potential to be reached. These are generally used long-term, as opposed to being used to treat acute anxiety attacks. Benzodiazepines, on the other hand, work more quickly. They are addictive, though, and can cause withdrawal symptoms.
When experimenting to find out how to treat anxiety in a way that works for you, keep an open mind and be patient. With perseverance, many anxiety sufferers can eliminate excessive worry from their lives and be happy, productive people.