Does Anxiety Therapy Work?

Updated October 7, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there are 40 million Americans that struggle with anxiety. This makes it the most common mental health challenge that the country faces. The prevalence of anxiety disorders has only continued to increase over the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety is very treatable, and there are various types of therapy that can be used to manage and treat anxiety. That means the good news is there is help for you in dealing with your anxiety. However, it's not as simple as finding "anxiety therapy." You will need to find a solution that works best for you.

Are Your Behaviors An Indicator of Anxiety Disorder?

  1. Anxiety Disorder

Someone who is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder is most likely experiencing high levels of fear to the point that it disrupts their normal behavior. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, several major types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: characterized by fear and distress around parting with one’s attachment figures
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (or social phobia): involves intense fear around social situations where one could be judged, criticized or rejected by others. Activities like meeting new people or public speaking may be avoided when possible, or endured with significant distress
  • Specific phobia: defined by extreme fear around an object or situation that poses minimal threat
  • Panic Disorder: characterized by recurring panic attacks, as well as the avoidance of situations where another episode may occur
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: persistent worry about everyday things (like school/work, finances, health) that interferes with daily functioning

People with anxiety disorders may experience symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, muscle aches, sleep problems, fatigue, and worry that feels impossible to control. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders sets guidelines for what generalized anxiety disorder consists of, as well as aspects of other disorders, so they can be diagnosed properly by a professional.

  1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

When you look at descriptions of OCD, you might be able to identify with some of the descriptions and recognize the symptoms in yourself. While most people can relate to some of the descriptions and symptoms that doesn't mean they'll be diagnosed with it. A doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed therapist must evaluate a person carefully before a diagnosis is made.

  • Trichotillomania - hair pulling
  • Body dysmorphic disorder - becoming obsessed with a physical trait that you believe is flawed, preoccupation with appearance
  • Hoarding disorder - unable to part with objects
  • Excoriation - skin picking
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder - persistent thoughts and obsessions often of which people believe it they don't do certain behaviors it could result in feared outcomes
  1. Stress and Trauma-Related Disorders

These disorders are ones that are directly related to the experience of trauma or stressors such as divorce, moving, or beginning college.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Symptoms include reliving past events, dissociative episodes, trying to avoid reminders of the traumatic experience, inability to feel happy, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, sleep disturbance, exaggerated startle response, and problems concentrating.
  • Adjustment Disorder - This is when you experience symptoms as a result of a specific event within three months of that happening.

Who Experiences Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems. They impact people of all ages. While many people have heard of separation anxiety in children, they can be impacted by any of these anxiety disorders. If you have a child that seems to be struggling with anxiety, it's important to see that they get the help they need. Early detection is important for helping people, including children, recover without the situation getting worse in the future. Reach out to a therapist as soon as you notice that you may be experiencing one of the multiple anxiety disorders listed above, so your symptoms of anxiety can be evaluated and treated.

Treatments Used for Anxiety

The National Institute of Mental Health describes that there are many types of therapy options available to treat anxiety and anxiety disorders. The most common ones are described here:

Psychotherapy

Multiple forms of psychotherapy are used to treat anxiety. The goal of this type of therapy is to help you better understand your behavior and then learn ways to cope with your feelings, fears, and anxieties in a healthier way. Some of the most commonly used forms of psychotherapy for treating anxiety include:

  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy – Exposure therapy is commonly used when treating PTSD. It works by helping people learn to gain control of their thoughts and behaviors when they are reminded of the trigger situation. It's important to work with a professional that knows how to use this type of therapy. They will help you to start working through the memories of the situation and identify reminders and things that could trigger your PTSD. The goal is to help you expose yourself to these things long enough that over time they begin to lose the power they had on you. This therapy also helps alleviate muscle tension by teaching relaxation techniques and promoting progressive muscle relaxation while overcoming fears and trauma. Systematic desensitization also involves exposure therapy, which is utilized for anxiety disorders treatment.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is highly effective for treating anxiety disorders. CBT is a behavioral therapy that is all about learning how to identify the thoughts and feelings that bring on your anxiety and panic attacks and then adopting new thought patterns. For example, a therapist can help you to examine frightening thoughts through the lens of distorted thinking. They can then assist you in developing a more balanced way of perceiving certain situations.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – This behavior therapy examines how to teach people effective ways to control their emotions. The focus is on mindfulness and stress management.

Medication

Some medications can be prescribed by a psychiatrist or doctor to help you gain control of your anxiety or to limit just the symptoms that are affecting you the most. If you are taking medication for your anxiety, or anti anxiety medications, it's a good idea to use other forms of therapies as well to learn how to manage your emotions. If you are experiencing PTSD, you may see benefit from antidepressants, which are in the form of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. You can discuss these types of medicine, as well as other anti anxiety medications with your mental health provider. They may help treat your anxiety as well as physical symptoms you are exhibiting.

Alternative Therapies

Many people find relief with alternative therapies. Even if you are using other treatments with your anxiety, these options can still be helpful in addition to your other treatments. This can include things like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, journaling, self-care, and aromatherapy.

Self-care includes taking care of both your mental and physical health and engaging in things like making sure you are eating right, getting enough rest, and taking time to do things that you enjoy. You can also talk to your doctor about group therapy or support groups that can be effective for certain anxiety disorders.

How Do I Find an Anxiety Therapist Near Me?

If you are ready to seek help for your anxiety, your first step is to find a licensed therapist in your area. You could start by asking for personal recommendations from friends and family . Additionally, you can start with an online search like, "anxiety therapists near me." Remember that different therapists specialize in different things. You'll want to find someone who is experienced in treating people dealing with anxiety and anxiety disorders.

Are Your Behaviors An Indicator of Anxiety Disorder?

Don't be afraid to talk to several different therapists to see who you are most comfortable with. It can be helpful to make sure that they are able to approach your situation using psychodynamic therapy or behavioral therapy, so you can see a reduction in the symptoms of anxiety. Keep in mind that you will need to be very open with your therapist, which means you need to feel comfortable with them.

Some other things that you might want to consider when looking for a therapist include what their credentials are, where they are located, and how much they cost. If you have health insurance, you can check with the company to see if they will cover any of the cost. If not, you can talk to your therapist to see what kind of help they can offer. Many therapists offer sliding scale pricing to make it easier for everyone to get the help they need.

If you don't want to go into an office or don't have a therapist in your local area, you can try online therapy. Websites like BetterHelp exist to connect you with therapists that can help you with your mental health challenges. Usually, with a simple form, they will gather information and match you up with a therapist that will fit your needs.

Whichever option you choose to go with the most important things are that you get help to overcome your anxiety, get treatment for anxiety disorders, see a reduction in physical symptoms, and then ultimately notice an improvement in your life. If the first thing that you try doesn't work, don't give up. There are plenty of options available when it comes to treatment for many anxiety disorders.

Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:

What kind of therapy is best for anxiety?

The best type of therapy for anxiety, as well as different anxiety disorders may be cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy can help treat mental health issues, including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and psychiatric disorders. Cognitive therapy examines how you process thoughts and behave, and may be able to alter the way you are thinking about or acting in certain situations. It is also known as talk therapy.

The American Psychological Association website states that cognitive therapy is an effective treatment for various forms of mental illness, like post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and other conditions. You may want to talk to a therapist about this behavioral therapy, so you can learn more about how it can help reduce anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks, where  you may be able to feel more like yourself again and see a reduction in the frequency of your anxiety.

How long does therapy for anxiety take?

It is up to you how long you choose to take advantage of therapy for anxiety. Different anxiety patients will need to work with a professional for different amounts of time depending on the symptoms they face and how severe they are. Some may notice a reduction in their symptoms after just a few sessions, while for others, it may take longer to notice positive changes.

If you opt for cognitive behavioral treatment, you may decide to continue working with a therapist until you are able to see specific symptoms decrease or not affect you anymore. Cognitive behavior therapy cbt is the most widely used therapy for treating anxiety disorders. You can read about its effectiveness in a number of studies published through the National Institute of Mental Health. This national institute is a great place to read research that may be interesting and relevant in the field of mental health.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety?

When you are experiencing anxiety or anxiety symptoms, you can take advantage of the 3-3-3 rule, which means you should take a few moments to think about 3 things you see, 3 sounds you hear, and finally, name 3 areas of your body. Taking the time to pay attention to these things can help you stay in the moment and may reduce anxiety. This can even be effective with anxiety disorders like social anxiety, since you can practice this exercise at any time and in any location.

What do therapists look for with anxiety?

There are many people that experience anxiety from time to time, but if this anxiety affects different aspects of your life or doesn’t seem to go away, you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder, which can greatly affect your mental health. If you have panic attacks or other anxiety symptoms that are keeping you from doing things that you need to do, it may be worthwhile to talk to a therapist about how you are feeling. If you are wondering does therapy help with anxiety, the answer is yes. It can help you in a number of different ways if you are experiencing an anxiety disorder considering there are numerous ways to treat anxiety disorders.

Why did I develop anxiety?

You may develop anxiety for many different reasons, including being under too much stress for an extended period of time, or if you have experienced abuse in your life. Nearly everyone experiences anxiety at times, but if you have excessive worry or excessive anxiety, you should consider seeking therapy. You may have an anxiety disorder that requires treatment, like behavior therapy, which is one of the ways therapists are able to treat anxiety disorders.

Can therapy make anxiety worse?

For most people, therapy is unlikely to make anxiety worse. You can check out the information on the National Institute of Mental Health website to learn about the anxiety disorders and other conditions therapy may be able to help treat.

The proper treatment for anxiety can help lessen your anxiety symptoms, so they have less impact on your life and routine. For example, a therapist may talk to you about cognitive behavioral therapy, or talk therapy, which can help you understand more about your thoughts and behavior, and how to change them if they are causing you harm.

Anxiety disorders tend to affect many aspects of your life, so you should be open and honest with your therapist about what you are going through. This can help them develop a treatment plan to ensure you get the best care possible and so your anxiety won’t worsen.

Does anxiety ever go away?

Anxiety is a condition that can go away. If you only experience anxiety occasionally, it may not affect you very often, but if you have clinical anxiety, which means you have an intense amount of anxiety, it can still be lessened, with the proper treatment plan. You should consider talking to a therapist about therapy for anxiety. There are multiple options available that may be able to help. You may see benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, additional types of behavior therapy, exposure therapy, or other treatments that are designed to treat anxiety disorders.

How do I stop my anxiety thoughts?

If you are trying to stop your anxiety, you may want to learn relaxation techniques, which are designed to alleviate stress and anxiety. It may also be a good idea to think about therapy for anxiety, since there are many methods that a professional may have for treating anxiety and improving your mental health overall. This could help you see your anxiety symptoms become less intrusive and you may be able to learn more about how to overcome anxiety.

Moreover, if you think that you have a mental illness or anxiety disorders, you should reach out for help as soon as possible.

How do I get rid of anxiety forever?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that we all experience. For individuals with anxiety disorders, feelings of worry are persistent, difficult to control, and disruptive to daily functioning. As is the case with other types of mental illness, there is no ‘cure’ for anxiety disorders, but there are ways to manage the condition and reduce the severity of symptoms. While an individual may not be able to eliminate symptoms of anxiety entirely, treatment can help them to learn new skills and techniques for coping with anxious feelings.

One of the best techniques you may want to utilize to get rid of anxiety is working with a therapist. Whether your anxiety is a result of anxiety disorders or some other type of mental illness, there are a few different approaches that a therapist will be able to use to help alleviate your anxiety symptoms. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or even anti anxiety medication, depending on your symptoms and the severity of them.

If you don’t know where to find a therapist, you can talk to your primary care provider for more information or to get a referral for a psychiatrist.

What is the 54321 method for anxiety?

This method for anxiety involves taking 5 seconds to inhale, keeping the breath in for 5 seconds, and exhaling for 5 seconds. This may be able to help you if you feel like you are having a panic attack and want to lessen your anxiety or to help you practice mindfulness when you have anxiety. You can also learn additional relaxation techniques that might be able to help or talk to a therapist for advice on treating anxiety disorders and limiting the effects of anxiety.

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