Does Anxiety Therapy Work?
Updated March 05, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
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. While anxiety is very treatable, "anxiety therapy" itself is not a real thing. Instead, there many different types of therapy options 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.
- 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. There are several kinds of disorders that fall within this category:
- Separation anxiety
- Social anxiety
- Specific phobia
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
Some common symptoms that come with anxiety disorders include irritability, fatigue, muscle aches, problems sleeping, fatigue, and worry that feels impossible to control.
- 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 harm.
- 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 situation, 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 challenges. 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.
Treatments Used for Anxiety
There are many different therapy options available to treat anxiety. The most common ones are described here:
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 - This 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.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - CBT is all about learning how to identify the thoughts and feelings that bring on your anxiety and like panic attacks and then learn how to change your thinking around them. It teaches you a new way of processing your thoughts and feelings, which helps lessen anxiety and its symptoms.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy - DBT is used to teach people effective ways to control their emotions. The focus is on mindfulness and stress management.
Some medications can be prescribed by a psychiatrist or doctor to help you gain control of your anxiety. If you are taking medication for your anxiety, it's a good idea to use other forms of therapies as well to learn how to manage your emotions.
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 things like making sure you are eating right, getting enough rest, and taking time to do things that you enjoy.
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 members. Or, you can start with an online search like, "anxiety therapists near me." Remember that different therapist specializes in different things. You'll want to find someone who is experienced in treating people dealing with anxiety.
Don't be afraid to talk to several different therapists to see who you are most comfortable with. 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 thing is that you get help to overcome your anxiety and improve 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 anxiety.
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