How To Treat Anxiety In 3 Steps

Updated August 28, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Maria Abada, LPC

Recognizing the symptoms of a mental health issue like anxiety is the first and most crucial step towards healing. Many factors contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder. In most cases, people who deal with anxiety or panic disorder are confused about what to do to manage their condition and improve their mental health.

There is nothing wrong with being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Understanding the condition and symptoms can help you tackle it properly. Fortunately, there are treatments available for people who deal with anxiety disorders. If you are wondering how to treat anxiety, this article will be beneficial to you. Read on to learn about a few of the best treatments available, with details on how they work.

Common Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders

It is normal to feel anxious every once in a while. However, people who exhibit signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder or panic disorder, such as panic attacks, can become inhibited by their anxiety.

There is no singular cause behind the development of disorders such as social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. Some patients experience anxiety symptoms due to an underlying health condition. Heart disease, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and diabetes can all cause someone to develop anxiety symptoms. People who experienced trauma and abuse may also develop anxiety symptoms such as an intense fear of social situations. People with an obsessive-compulsive disorder or a panic disorder often present physical symptoms of anxiety as well.

The following are a few examples of mental and physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • Nervousness or restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Trouble breathing
  • Intense fear
  • Panic Attacks

Common Types Of Anxiety Disorders

Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Anxiety disorder as a result of a medical condition
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • A panic disorder characterized by sudden feelings of intense anxiety known as panic attacks.
  • Separation anxiety
  • Substance-induced anxiety

Medication

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Medication and drug supplements can be effective in the treatment of mental health issues. There is a wide range of medications used to treat anxiety disorders in particular. The type of drug and dose is dependent on the severity of the anxiety disorder being treated.

One of the most common drug supplements to treat anxiety disorders are benzodiazepines. This medication is often prescribed for short-term treatments.  Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) are another type of drug often prescribed as a long-term treatment for a mental health issue like anxiety.

Some common benzodiazepines include drug supplements like Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. Benzodiazepines are incredibly useful, and effects can be felt within thirty minutes after use. The drug works by slowing the nervous system down until the body relaxes both physically and mentally. However, there is a risk that people taking benzodiazepines can develop a dependency. While these medications are effective at reducing anxiety, they are not a cure. In some cases, these medications lose efficacy after about three to six months.

In contrast, there is a lower risk of dependency on SSRI’s. Unlike benzodiazepines, SSRIs take a longer time to work and produce results. In most cases, it takes about four to six weeks before the medication begins to take effect. Typical SSRIs include but are not limited to Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, or Prozac. The brands mentioned are some of the most popularly prescribed medications for people who wonder how to treat anxiety disorders. There are, however, specific side effects that must be considered before being starting these drug supplements. The most common side effects of these medications are fatigue, sexual dysfunction, agitation, nausea, and insomnia. In most cases, after a patient’s anxiety disorder has significantly improved, there is a need for them to gradually taper off the medication. A sudden halting of the medicine may complicate or worsen the anxiety disorder being treated.

Apart from benzodiazepines and SSRIs, there are other medication options. Buspirone, which is also known by its popular brand name, BuSpar is a recently developed anxiety medication.  BuSpar helps to treat anxiety disorders by increasing serotonin levels in the brain while reducing decreasing dopamine.  This medication is slow-acting and may take up to two weeks to fully take effect, but has a low risk of dependency. As with most other medications, BuSpar comes with specific side effects, including dizziness, weight gain, nausea, and constipation.

In the search for how to treat anxiety, the use of Beta Blockers has been instrumental. Although Beta Blockers are used initially to treat high blood pressure and heart-related issues, they are used off-label as anxiety medication. This medication works by stopping the effect of norepinephrine, which is the stress hormone involved in the fight or flight response, which anxiety triggers. The use of this medication helps control the physical symptoms of anxiety-like sweaty hands dizziness and a spike in heart rate.

Although medication is rather conventional as a treatment option, it is important to consider the entirety of the side effects. When selecting a medication, be sure to disclose existing medical conditions and thoroughly discuss the potential side effects with your medication provider.

Psychotherapy

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Psychotherapy is another effective treatment modality for anxiety.  In most cases, anxiety can negatively impact one’s life in several domains.  Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy modality that is effective in the treatment of anxiety. CBT involves a short term intensive treatment that is often goal-oriented.  The main focus of this treatment is to change patterns of thinking or behavior associated with their anxiety. Most CBT treatments typically last for about five to ten months.

Self-Treatment

When the question on how to treat anxiety is raised, self-treatment is rarely cited. For mild anxiety disorders, it is possible to treat and manage stress and improve your mental health.

Doctors encourage people who deal with anxiety disorders to utilize relaxation techniques, which may also come in the form of exercise. Yoga is a perfect example of great relaxation exercises; the slow, elegant moves and multiple positions offer the mind something else to focus on rather than the negative thoughts that it tends to focus on usually. Another effective strategy for treating anxiety is adopting a stress management plan. A stress management plan requires you to be aware of potentially stressful situations or deadlines, which may trigger feelings of anxiety or panic. A consistent exercise program is also really helpful in treating anxiety disorders.

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Having a good support network makes all the difference in treating anxiety disorders. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can really help alleviate anxiety.

Frequently Asked Questions About Finding Treatment For Anxiety

Whether you start to feel anxious when you are out in public or fear that your loved one is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, it is understandable for you to seek out questions on finding help. Here are our most frequently asked questions about anxiety symptoms, support groups for people struggling with generalized anxiety disorder, and more.

Is it normal for people with social anxiety and depression to experience panic attacks? Some people struggling with anxiety suffer from panic attacks as a result of their mental health problems. If you are suffering from panic attacks, know that you are not alone and that there is help out there for you.

How do I deal with panic attacks? Panic attacks can be extremely scary. However, there are several techniques you can use to cope with one should you experience one. Closing your eyes, practicing deep breathing, and repeating a mental mantra are beneficial and effective methods for managing a panic attack. Working with a therapist trained in anxiety can help you develop your own effective coping skills.

What are the most common types of anxiety? The most common types of anxiety include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Phobia.

How do I find a doctor to help me manage my anxiety symptoms? Your primary care physician can give you a referral to a mental health professional trained in helping you manage your depression and anxiety.

What are some common relaxation techniques that people with social anxiety can use? Deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation are effective relaxation techniques for people with social anxiety.

Are there support groups for people who struggle with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or any other types of anxiety and depression? There are numerous support groups out there for people struggling with anxiety. Joining one can be an effective supplement to your current treatment. For recommendations, ask your primary care physician or mental health counselor for assistance.

Does exposure therapy work for different types of anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or panic disorder? Exposure therapy is designed to make patients address their fears head-on. This therapy is extremely effective for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias.

What are the most common signs of a panic attack? The most common signs of a panic attack include hyperventilation, sweating, nausea, fear of losing control, and chest pain.

Can alcohol and drugs worsen anxiety? While some people try to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs, this can actually make them feel anxious and depressed instead. Instead of attempting to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs, practicing healthy lifestyle changes such as meditation and exercise are far more effective in the long run.

What causes separation anxiety in children? Separation anxiety can result from a number of factors. Dealing with a traumatic life event, sudden change in their everyday routine, or abuse. While some children grow out of separation anxiety, others need therapy to address their separation anxiety.

What are some healthy living tips for alleviating my social anxiety disorder? Practicing healthy living such as eating healthy and nutritious meals and following an exercise regime can help alleviate your anxiety disorder and physical symptoms. Learning relaxation techniques such as mindful breathing and meditation can also help you manage your social anxiety disorder.

In deciding how to treat anxiety from the methods mentioned above, it is advisable to consider combining psychotherapy and medication to treat anxiety. In most cases, this form of treatment yields the best results. It is important to discuss what approach is best for you, which is why you need to find a doctor for help. Our professionals at BetterHelp have a considerable amount of experience on how to treat anxiety effectively. Our professionals are equipped to answer your questions and help you address your anxiety.


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