5 Types Of Therapies For Anxiety

Updated July 11, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Anxiety is something that every person will deal with from time to time in life. However, for some people, anxiety can become debilitating. It can control the decisions that they make and cause them to lose interest in things they normally enjoy. The good news is there are several different types of therapy for anxiety disorders that can be used to help.

Could Anxiety Be Affecting The Quality Of Your Decision Making?

What Is Anxiety?

Some people think of anxiety as worry, and others think of it as nervousness. Anxiety is the response that your body has to fear. It could be fear of something real, something imagined, or something that you just think could happen.

Some people experience their anxiety getting so out of control that they lose the quality of life that they once enjoyed. There are many different types of anxiety disorders that people can be diagnosed with and many mental disorders that can be co-morbid with anxiety. A few common examples of anxiety disorders that show up in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) are social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias.

Several different factors can contribute to anxiety disorders. It is generally not caused by just one specific situation. People can be more likely to struggle with anxiety if they have a family history of it. Their personality, physical health, and life experiences also play a role in creating anxiety.

Symptoms Of Anxiety

The symptoms of anxiety are both mental and physical, and they will be different depending on the person and the specific anxiety disorder. As mentioned above, there are many different mental health conditions under the umbrella of anxiety disorders that appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. These include panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorders will feel nervous. Their mind could be racing, and they have a difficult time thinking logically about situations. They feel afraid. They may even experience panic attacks.

There are many physical anxiety symptoms including increased heart rate, sweating, shallow breathing, problems sleeping, digestive problems, and having a hard time controlling thoughts.

There are also several mental health conditions that can be co-morbid with anxiety disorders. For example, many people who live with conditions like borderline personality disorder also experience clinical anxiety. So, a mental health provider will treat borderline personality disorder and anxiety simultaneously. Anxiety and depression are also two disorders that co-occur often.

Types Of Therapy

There are many different types of therapy that can be utilized for reducing anxiety symptoms and managing related disorders. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are many other treatment options and types of therapy for anxiety that can help, including acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, and exposure therapy. For this article, however, we are outlining the five options below:

  1. Animal-Assisted Therapies

When people think of service animals, they tend to think of dogs. However, when it comes to treating anxiety disorders, there are many different options available for animal-assisted therapies. Dogs, cats, and horses are some of the most commonly used animals to treat anxiety.

One of the benefits of animal-assisted therapy is that animals tend to have a relaxing effect on people. Sometimes it's just their presence that can help someone take their thoughts off their anxieties and fears and place them on the animal that's in front of them. It can also be helpful for people struggling with anxiety to strike a bond with an animal. It can feel lonely when you're dealing with mental health challenges and having an animal by your side can make it feel like you're not so alone in it all.

Support Animals

There are several types of animal therapy options. The first are therapy animals that you can simply visit with for a while. Someone else owns the animal, generally a dog, and they have gone through extensive training to learn how to become a support animal. Another option is horse therapy. This is where you go to a farm that offers these services and spends time caring for and riding horses.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

If your struggle with anxiety warrants it, or if you deal with other mental health challenges as well, you can talk to your therapist about getting a recommendation for a psychiatric service dog. These dogs are specially trained so they can go in any public place the same was a normal service dog can. They are trained to help you with daily functions that might be difficult because of your anxiety such as creating a barrier between you and other people and learning to notify you when they sense your anxiety levels are rising.

Getting Your Own Pet

Maybe you don't need a service dog but could use the extra company that a pet would bring. If you can easily care for and afford a pet they can make a nice addition to your life. They can distract you from the things that usually fill your mind and worry you.

  1. Art Therapy

Art therapy can be very beneficial to people that are dealing with anxiety. Sometimes when in the mix of worry, fear, and all the other emotions that come with anxiety it can be difficult to express yourself verbally. But art therapy allows you to express yourself in a different way.

Art therapy helps anxiety by shifting your mind away from your anxieties and onto the art that you are creating. There are many benefits to this type of therapy. It helps you to calm, stops the thoughts racing through your head, and shifts your focus. It also helps you to build your focus on something that you are choosing to focus on, which helps you learn to control your thoughts.

Creating art is also a great way to release stress and build your self-esteem. You can see something that you have creative and feel good about the progress you are making. While art therapy can be beneficial during actual therapy sessions, it's also something you can do at home on your own when you are struggling to deal with your anxiety.

  1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (sometimes called cognitive behaviour therapy) grew out of—as its name suggests—cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. It is an effective form of therapy to treat anxiety disorders because it focuses on the connection between a person's thoughts and their behaviors and feelings. When someone is struggling with anxiety, their thoughts are filled with the things that they are worried or fearful about. There's a good chance that they don't even realize how often they are thinking about the things that are causing them to stress and worry. For many, anxiety has been a part of their life for so long they don't even know the real impact it's making on their life.

Cognitive behavioral therapy runs for a set period, so patients know how many sessions they have remaining during therapy. They work together with a therapist to learn how to recognize their negative thoughts. Then, the therapist works with the person to teach them how to think in more beneficial ways in a process known as cognitive restructuring. According to the American Psychiatric Association, this can help people living with anxiety disorders decrease anxious feelings. They work to create habits that will help them to cope with and overcome their anxiety healthily. When they know how to control their thoughts, they will experience a difference in their feelings and behaviors.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be used to treat co-morbid psychiatric disorders like major depression, which can make anxiety worse.

  1. Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback therapy helps those dealing with anxiety by showing them the impact that their anxiety levels have on their physical body. During sessions, the patient is hooked up to electrode or sensors that monitor things like breathing rate, heart rate, skin temperature, and blood pressure. This allows the person to see as they get stressed and anxious, the impact it's having on their body.

Then, as they work to lower their stress levels with different strategies they can see the immediate result that it's having on their body. This helps them to see what works and what doesn't. It also helps them to identify what their body feels like when under stress and what it should feel like when they are more relaxed.

Could Anxiety Be Affecting The Quality Of Your Decision Making?

  1. Medications

There are some instances when medication can help people in getting control of their anxiety. If someone is anxious to the point that they are depressed and suicidal, it can be important to help them regulate their mood quickly. For anxiety, many people will use medication as an immediate treatment while also doing other forms of treatment to help them overcome their anxiety, so the medication doesn't have to be a long-term solution. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the most commonly prescribed medications for anxiety are anti-anxiety medications, beta blockers, and anti-depressants. Some psychologists and other mental health professionals are not able to prescribe medication. So, if you aren't working with a psychiatrist, your psychologist will need to connect you with a doctor or psychiatrist to help.

How To Find A Therapist For Anxiety

If you struggle with anxiety to the point that you feel it's impacting your life, it's time to get help. There are many options available on how to do this. You can look for a local mental health professional in your area, or you could look for online therapy options. With online therapy through BetterHelp, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with a mental health provider from the comfort of home (or wherever you have an internet connection). The qualified mental health professionals at BetterHelp know how to help you address symptoms of even severe anxiety disorders. Working with a BetterHelp therapist, you can come up with a treatment plan that fits your needs and be on your way to managing anxiety symptoms and living a full and happy life.

There are more therapy options if you meet in person with a therapist. But, sometimes it can be difficult to make it to appointments. This is when you might want to try an online therapist or teletherapist.

Things You Can Do On Your Own To Help Your Therapy

Getting help from a mental health professional is always the best option when you are struggling with your mental health, but there are things that you can do on your own at home to help ease your anxiety as well.

Breathing techniques - If you start to feel anxious, your breathing is likely to become faster. This impacts your heart rate, can lead to muscle tension, and will often affect the rest of your body as well. Learning deep breathing techniques can help you regain control when you start feeling anxious.

Mindfulness- When you practice mindfulness you learn how to remove your emotional response from situations. This allows you to sit, take it what's happening at the moment, along with how you feel without passing judgment on anything.

Self-care - This includes things like how much sleep you get, what you are eating, and if you are exercising. Taking care of your self properly can make a big difference in your mental health and your ability to overcome your anxiety.

While anxiety is something that everyone will experience from time to time, it's not something that you have to just live with or struggle with on your own. Reach out for help.

Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:

What is the best therapy for anxiety?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, CBT is considered the “gold standard” when it comes to therapy for anxiety disorders. But there are many other treatment methods when it comes to anxiety therapy. Some other proven effective forms of therapy for anxiety disorders include exposure therapy, interpersonal therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and biofeedback therapy. Your mental health provider can help you determine which form of anxiety therapy is right for you based on your symptoms and goals.

What are 5 treatments for anxiety?

Aside from anxiety therapy, there are many different treatments for the symptoms of anxiety. And they will typically vary based on the specific disorder the person is living with. Someone who is experiencing a panic attack will usually need a different treatment than someone who is living with social anxiety disorder. That said, here are some methods that are frequently used to treat anxiety disorders.

Progressive muscle relaxation, during which the individual tenses and then relaxes their muscles, is one way of relieving the negative effects of anxiety on your physical health. Systematic desensitization—a form of exposure therapy—is another useful method. Systematic desensitization involves exposing the individual to the stimulus that is leading to the symptoms of their anxiety disorder and having them practice relaxation techniques to reduce the fear associated with that stimulus.

Another treatment is to have the individual utilize relaxation techniques on their own, which can include deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and other practices. The National Institute of Mental Health also suggests techniques like exercise and mindfulness for treating symptoms of anxiety disorders.

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