Many people do not realize just how many treatment options there are when it comes to therapy for anxiety. Anxiety is a very treatable condition with psychotherapy for anxiety. There are a variety of different therapeutic techniques that are used for treating anxiety disorders.
A meta-analysis review published by International Clinical Psychopharmacology found that medications, online therapy, in person therapy, EMDR therapy, and group CBT therapy can all have benefits for people with anxiety disorders and related psychiatric disorders. Which anxiety therapy works best for you depends on several factors; consulting with a trained professional is the best way to get recommendations for treating specific symptoms.
Not every type of therapy works for every person. Every patient, every presentation of anxiety is different. There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to therapy. You may need to try several different types of therapy for anxiety before you find the one that lessens, and ultimately, eliminates it for you.
Mindfulness-based therapy is a type of therapy, originally developed for the prevention of depression. Mindfulness-Based Therapy has been found to have positive effects in the treatment of anxiety as well. This is a variation of cognitive therapy and is often referred to as MBCT, or Mindful Based Cognitive Therapy.
Several studies have shown that mindfulness-based therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety. However, more research needs to be conducted to examine the effectiveness of this treatment modality in treating anxiety. This may be one method of therapy that your therapist may recommend to help you manage your anxiety symptoms.
Mindfulness-based therapy is similar to cognitive therapy in that it focuses on changing the way you think, and it focuses on the link between your thoughts and feelings. Some of the techniques you will learn in mindfulness-based therapy are mindful meditation and breathing exercises. Sessions are usually done in a group setting, but can also be conducted individually. Exercises are typically assigned for homework.
Cognitive therapy is based on research that shows that there is a definite link between the way you think and the way you feel. Many people who experience anxiety have thoughts that things will go wrong, they tend to worry and have bouts of fear. Learning how to control those thoughts and changing the way you think can reduce your anxiety or eliminate it completely. The process of identifying negative thinking patterns (cognitive distortions) and replacing them with more rational and positive thoughts is called “cognitive restructuring”. Clinical neuroscience experts have found evidence that cognitive therapy is an effective way to restructure automatic thinking patterns.
In cognitive therapy, your thoughts and views on yourself and the world are challenged. It can be very uncomfortable at first. Many people instinctively resist the process this treatment method entails, therefore, trusting the process and the therapist and completing homework assignments as suggested, are key to successful outcomes. It can be extremely effective, but you have to put in the effort to make it work.
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
Some specific causes of anxiety or phobias can be treated with exposure therapy. Virtual reality exposure therapy is a new way to facilitate change using old theories. The idea is to gradually or abruptly instigate exposure to what it is that is making you anxious. Repeated exposure can help desensitize you to the stimuli that are causing your anxiety.
Virtual reality exposure therapy is becoming a preferred method of exposure therapy because it can take place entirely in the presence of the therapist. The therapist can be there to make sure that the situation does not get out of control, and they can stop the treatment if it becomes too stressful.
Therapeutic techniques using VR technology could enable clients to face their fears in a safe environment, but the effectiveness of virtual reality exposure therapy is not yet well researched. Some studies suggest that it can decrease symptoms of anxiety. However, more research is needed as to how well virtual reality works to decrease or eliminate anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a very common and well-researched form of psychotherapy that has been found to be extremely effective in the treatment of anxiety and other psychological disorders. The basis for cognitive behavioral therapy is that anxiety is based all or in part on unhelpful ways of thinking or behaving. The theory is that these thoughts and actions are frequently learned, and they can be unlearned or replaced with more helpful thoughts and behaviors.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been well-researched over the years and there is evidence that it can be an effective form of therapy for anxiety disorders and related disorders whether it is online or in person therapy. A randomized controlled trial from 2020 surveying the effects of online cognitive therapy for patients with clinical anxiety found that engaging in digital CBT could effectively improve:
- Depressive symptoms
- Quality of life
Cognitive behavioral therapy may focus on learning to recognize your unhelpful thoughts and actions and making a conscious effort to change those thoughts and behaviors. One of the goals of CBT is to give you confidence that you can make positive changes in your life. Cognitive behavioral therapy may use some tools to help you on this journey.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used therapy techniques and many other types of therapy use CBT methods. Like other types of therapy, you will frequently have homework from your therapist when you are going through the process of cognitive behavioral therapy. It is important to do all of the work assigned to you because the sessions themselves can only teach you the tools. You have to use the tools in your everyday life for a change to occur.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is similar to CBT, but it focuses more on teaching coping skills related to behavior. It is a form of talk therapy that is popular for people with borderline personality disorder, but it can also be effective for other types of mental illness such as anxiety. DBT is specifically adapted for treating patients who experience intense emotions.
“Dialectical” means to combine opposites. In DBT therapy, the patient learns how to accept the reality of experiencing strong negative emotions while also changing their unhelpful behaviors. It focuses on teaching coping skills to help individuals navigate intense emotions in a healthy way and improve interpersonal relationships. The distress tolerance skills taught in DBT therapy can be beneficial for reducing anxiety levels.
A research study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that family therapy can prevent the spread of anxiety disorders from parents to their children. Experts in adolescent psychiatry theorize that children may be susceptible to developing high anxiety levels and anxiety disorders from close family members. Family therapists specialize in working with multiple family members and understanding how family dynamics can impact mental health and behavior. Family therapy may be the most effective when every family member chooses to actively participate.
Studies have shown that animal-assisted therapy is extremely effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety. Animal-assisted therapy may involve a trained animal, its handler, and a therapist using the animal's behaviors and interactions with the patient to work towards achieving the therapeutic goals that were agreed upon with the patient.
The research done on animal-assisted therapy has also led to the common practice of emotional support animals as a method of therapy at home. Trained emotional support animals can greatly reduce symptoms of anxiety when you are not with your therapist or a trained handler and their animal. Of course, there are places where you cannot take an emotional support animal, and getting a trained animal for this purpose can be costly and difficult.
Acceptance And Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy is a fairly new kind of psychotherapy that is based on relational frame theory and philosophical and psychological research and analysis. In this type of therapy, the patient is led to examine and accept things in their past or present that are relating to their anxiety. Once the patient reaches acceptance, they commit to change or maintain a behavior that meets their goals.
Many exercises are used in acceptance and commitment therapy. These may include metaphor, paradox, or experiential exercises. You will learn to make healthy contact with your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and acknowledge and accept them in the present. You will then commit to making changes in thoughts or behavior to better meet your overall goals.
Some initial studies on acceptance and commitment therapy indicate that it can be as effective as cognitive therapy, although it works in a much different way. The studies have shown that although the mechanisms are different, overall outcomes are similar.
Massage therapy is not a treatment for anxiety per se. However, it can be helpful in the treatment of symptoms of anxiety while you are working with other methods to decrease or eliminate the anxiety. Stress can make anxiety worse; stress management like massage therapy, walking outside, yoga, and meditation can be beneficial during the treatment process and reduce the physical effects of anxiety such as muscle tension.
Studies have shown that massage therapy decreases anxiety not just during the massage, but lasting for some time after the massage, especially when the massage therapy is repeated throughout the week for several weeks in a row.
Meditation is a wonderful therapy that can also be used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Transcendental meditation specifically has been shown to reduce the effects of anxiety greatly. However, this should not be used as your sole method for combatting anxiety. It is important to make use of psychotherapy to address the core problem of the anxiety rather than simply trying to cope by reducing the anxiety through meditation.
Muscle Relaxation Therapy
Muscle relaxation therapy is another way that you can reduce anxiety on an ongoing basis while undergoing other treatments to address the core problem of anxiety. Muscle relaxation therapy is most frequently done through progressive muscle relaxation, which can be described as a relaxation technique similar to body scan meditation, that can be done on your own or with the direction of a therapist. Anxiety can have physical effects on the body such as muscle pains and aches, but relaxation techniques like muscle relaxation therapy can help.
Some anxiety disorders are characterized by an irrational fear or excessive worrying about a feared outcome. Exposure therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat situational anxiety or phobias. Through exposure therapy, you are exposed to the stimuli that are causing your anxiety. The idea is to desensitize you to the stimuli so that you are no longer worried about or afraid of it.
The biggest downfall of exposure therapy is that some phobias or situations that cause anxiety cannot be duplicated in the therapist's office. Often exposure therapy is done by the therapist helping you to evaluate your feelings about the stimuli, and then assigning homework to expose yourself to the stimulus outside of their office, reporting back at the next session to discuss and evaluate results.
Exposure therapy might be immediate where you are exposed fully to your fears all at once, or they can be gradual. Therapists generally prefer a gradual approach because it allows for a much more controlled and learned response.
One approach to exposure therapy is a process referred to as “systematic desensitization”. Systematic desensitization involves pairing relaxation techniques with exposure to the phobia or fear in order to rewire the brain’s connections to not have a fear reaction to that stimuli. For example, practicing relieving muscle tension with progressive muscle relaxation techniques while thinking about the fear. Other relaxation techniques used in systematic desensitization therapy include deep breathing, visualization, and meditation.
Going to an anxiety support group may be a more affordable option than traditional therapy for some people. Other benefits of attending a support group include having social support during treatment and learning from the other members. There are different types of support groups you can attend, but they generally include 5-10 members and one or more therapists or other mental health professionals. The effectiveness of peer support groups for people with anxiety has been studied and there is evidence that it can be highly beneficial for treatment. Support groups are not right for everyone; people with social anxiety or privacy concerns may prefer individual therapy.
Creative Arts Therapy
There is a range of complementary therapies for anxiety that can be combined with the main form of treatment for anxiety. Complementary therapies include things like art therapy and pet therapy. Creative arts therapy alone may not be enough to treat clinical anxiety, but it is a helpful tool to use during treatment.
Creative or expressive arts therapy includes things like painting, dancing, writing, and drawing. Art therapists teach individuals how to express their emotions through various creative outlets. Creative arts can help people build self-esteem, control emotions, and relieve stress. A research study on the effects of art therapy on adult women with anxiety found that art therapy reduced anxiety symptoms and improved quality of life by teaching acceptance of emotions and improving goal-oriented action.
Finding A Therapy For Anxiety
Now that you have an idea of the many different types of therapy for anxiety, your next step is to contact a therapist to get started. A good therapist, such as those available through BetterHelp, will be familiar with all of these therapies and will be able to help you determine what might work best for you. If one therapy is not helpful after several weeks, another therapy can be tried. Remember that everyone is different, and this is your journey.
An excellent option for those with anxiety is online therapy. Online therapy through services like BetterHelp has been found to have just as much positive effect as its traditional in-person counterpart at a significantly more affordable price point. It’s often more convenient for those with anxiety, as meeting in the comfort of their own home can avoid unnecessary stressors.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which therapy is best for anxiety?
Since anxiety disorder affects each person differently, there are a number of behavioral therapy options that can help reduce anxiety. One of the more well-known behavioral therapy types is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of cognitive-behavioral health care is commonly helpful for those with depression and anxiety, among other mental health mood disorders. Essentially, cognitive behavioral therapy is talk therapy in which your therapist provides helpful strategies to combat your anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy strategies exist for the patient’s benefit, and this therapy is meant to be taken at one’s own pace.
This kind of health care is intended to be low stress and works best if the patient simply shows willingness to follow through with the strategies presented by their doctors. Talk therapy is not intended to be an immediate solution, so patients should ideally approach doctor-recommended strategies with patience and an open mind.
What are the 6 types of anxiety disorders?
There are six major types of anxiety disorders.
Generalized anxiety disorder occurs when somebody worries about a wide variety of personal matters, such as school or their career. Like other types of anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety can have physical and mental impacts. Relaxation techniques that one can use for anxiety disorder GAD can be as simple as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or talking with a loved one about anxiety. While many factors can contribute to anxiety disorder GAD, people who experience generalized anxiety and its associated negative thoughts should not lose hope since there are also many possible treatments.
People with phobias have intense fears of a person, particular anxiety provoking imagery, or any other topic that terrifies them. A fear is considered a phobia if someone has experienced the terror for at least six months. Phobic people with anxiety panic at triggers that may seem harmless to others.
Social Anxiety Disorder
This is a type of phobia, specifically a social phobia, in which affected individuals are afraid of being judged or experience particularly negative thoughts in social situations. These instances could include giving a school presentation or talking with a group of people. This kind of disorder can also have a physical and mental effect on an individual’s body and nervous system. One relaxation technique for this kind of anxiety disorder is slowly integrating the person experiencing social anxiety into smaller and then larger groups of people, to help the individual feel more comfortable interacting with others.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Common in children, separation anxiety disorder transpires when an individual becomes scared or worried when a loved one leaves their side, even for a short while. This disorder can significantly reduce a child’s self-esteem, leaving them in a state of concern or fear. Parents in particular can try to utilize a relaxation technique of soothing children with reassuring actions, like hugging or hand holding. Parents can also try to relax children experiencing separation anxiety disorder with words, such as preparing children for their absence in advance and explaining how long they will be gone and emphasizing not only when but that they absolutely will return.
People with panic disorders experience panic attacks in response to certain events in their lives. These episodes can make them get sweaty, feel dizzy, increase their heart rate, and experience intense fear. Those with panic disorders should try to avoid situations that can trigger a panic attack. When panic-inducing situations are unavoidable, or a part of life that someone does not wish to give up, a medical professional can provide strategies and relaxation techniques to help an individual try to eventually minimize his or her reaction.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
These were once grouped under anxiety disorders, since obsessive compulsion and traumatic stress can cause intense worry for affected individuals. Disorder OCD is when an individual feels the need to obsess over small details, such as needing to lock their door three times before leaving for work. The compulsive disorder can negatively impact a person’s way of life. A fixation on negative thoughts can be a symptom in many disorders. Traumatic stress is when an individual feels intense worry about something that reminds them of something specific in their past. For example, traumatic stress can occur if they see a picture that reminds them of a painful moment that triggers traumatic stress.
Post traumatic stress disorder can stem from many causes, but veterans experiencing this disorder may have specific needs and resources. Consider researching national center options in your country to provide targeted support in these instances. In the United States, there is a National Center for PTSD. Veterans can reach out to government sources to learn about the National Center for PTSD and specialized treatment options. The National Center for PTSD provides resources and information that could be specific to veterans, and may not be applicable to others.
What is the best way to treat anxiety naturally?
The best way to treat mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, naturally is to schedule therapy sessions and talk about your anxiety with a doctor who can recommend health services. A doctor or therapist will provide a different perspective along with medical advice that can help to reduce anxiety in the long run.
While consulting a medical professional is the best way to get verified, personalized treatment, some people may also wish to try nonmedical techniques. For other methods that do not involve visiting the doctor, you can try improving your diet. Eating more fruit, with natural sugar that gives you energy for longer, and less junk food, like chips, could help some people.
Furthermore, drinking alcohol can contribute to anxiety. If you rely on alcohol to overcome your anxiety problems, this could lead to substance abuse. Substance abuse can lead to even more problems beyond anxiety disorder, including mental health disorders, such as depression. Cutting out some processed foods and considering reducing or eliminating alcohol intake tends to make people feel better physically, which can improve mental state and help pinpoint anxiety triggers that stem from one’s own behavior.
One of the most important treatments in reducing the intensity of your anxiety disorder is by getting some much needed sleep. By getting the proper amount of sleep, combined with having a healthy diet, you may become relaxed enough to determine if you may truly have an anxiety disorder that requires medical attention, versus natural mood swings and negative emotion due to poor health. Of course, this is not a foolproof solution, and is a very personal assessment of oneself. Yet some of these nonmedical suggestions can treat anxiety naturally and reduce negative thoughts.
What is the best way to treat severe anxiety?
The best way to treat severe anxiety is much like how you would treat anxiety naturally. If your anxiety is disrupting your way of life, then consult your primary care provider immediately and, together, you can explore solutions to these problems.
Similarly, beware of short-term solutions. Relying on alcohol to overcome anxiety episodes is not an effective coping mechanism. While alcohol can temporarily disguise anxiety’s presence, after you become sober, your anxiety will come back, and it may even become more severe. Support groups can be a resource for people who experience anxiety, substance abuse, or both.
The perfect way to avoid substance abuse is by engaging with more productive means of treatment, such as therapy CBT. Therapy CBT can help with a plethora of mental health disorders including and beyond anxiety disorder. For those who may be prone to substance abuse, therapy cbt can be a great way to talk to a trained professional about your anxiety. Remember that these sessions are all about you. If you do not want to talk about a specific subject, then feel free to not discuss it. Start out by talking about whatever makes you feel comfortable.
If you do not want to talk to a trained professional, then you can opt for a conversation with a family. They may be able to help you with anxiety disorder, and even substance abuse as well. If you are experiencing severe anxiety, consider that there are people who will want to talk with you and who want you to be healthy and safe. Reach out to friends and family, even if it is difficult to take a first step.
Veterans who are experiencing post traumatic stress related to their service should consider reaching out to a national center that can provide specialized resources. The US Department of Veterans Affairs supports the National Center for PTSD.
How do psychiatrists treat anxiety?
Psychiatrists treat anxiety by engaging in talk therapy, or other kinds of therapy in which they sit down and discuss the impact of anxiety in their patients’ lives. In the United States, psychiatrists can prescribe medication for anxiety disorders. These medical professionals can help identify and treat the source of negative thoughts. If it is an issue, psychiatrists can also help those who are victims of substance abuse as well. Psychiatrists in the United States are typically recommended to people who experience severe anxiety.
Is anxiety neurological or psychological?
Anxiety is considered a neurological disease because it involves the brain not functioning normally. It is also important to note that anxiety can physically impact the brain in negative ways. You can address and try to avoid this problem entirely by consulting with your doctor early and getting treated right away.
Does anxiety worsen with age?
Since anxiety affects each person differently, it does not worsen with age or necessarily peak. While anxiety itself can worsen over time if a person’s worries do not disappear, there are many evidence based resources people can use to reduce anxiety. Negative thoughts can occur at any age. Treating anxiety is no easy feat, and while anxiety can cause physical problems in one’s future career, there are numerous ways to reduce anxiety.
Physical relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, help some people control negative thoughts.
At what age does anxiety peak?
Anxiety can manifest in different people at different times. Due to differences in lifestyle, personality, and the simple uniqueness of every person’s life, there is no one peak age for anxiety. People can experience increasing stressors and negative thoughts as they get older and take on more responsibilities, leading to worse anxiety, but there is no one way to have anxiety. With consistent treatment, such as therapy, anxiety could even improve as one gets older.
What is CBT for anxiety?
Therapy cbt lets you talk with a trained professional about your issues with anxiety. Through these conversations, your provider can then provide helpful strategies that will help in combating your negative thoughts. Thus, these therapy cbt sessions can be one helpful outlet in expressing how your anxiety is affecting your life.
Does anxiety shorten your life?
A new study shows that anxiety does affect the lifespan of people who are affected by it compared to those who do not have anxiety disorders. However, do not feel as if having an anxiety disorder will guarantee that your lifespan will shorten. Remember that there are people who care about you and want nothing more than to see you live your life to the fullest. Trying to talk through negative thoughts and focus on the positives in life could make anyone’s life feel longer and more full. Consult with your loved ones about anxiety disorder or schedule a meeting with your doctor to discuss treatment plans for your anxiety and treatments to live a long, healthy life. One of the best tips in regard to treating anxiety is to pay attention to your diet. For instance, consider ignoring alcohol so that you do not risk developing a substance abuse problem.
Can you grow out of anxiety?
Rather than growing out of anxiety, it is more than possible to learn how to navigate and manage anxiety throughout our lives as a certain level of anxiety which is quite natural is present in all of our lives. Learning how to better manage an anxiety disorder, whether you are eight years old or eighty years old is entirely possible. While learning how to navigate anxiety may seem difficult, so long as you have the support of your loved ones and confidence in yourself, it is possible to manage your anxiety to a level where it does not affect your daily life. Trust in your friends and family. They can help you get through your hardest moments. And trust in yourself to make the right decisions. For example, you can avoid using alcohol as a temporary solution and thus, do not fall victim to substance abuse. Simply put, never give up.
Can anxiety damage your brain?
Research suggests that anxiety disorder can affect your brain, and chronic stress can potentially lead to other mental health disorders, such as depression. The human brain is sensitive yet resilient, and if you do your best to take care of it, it will take care of you.
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