There are several different treatment options for those suffering with Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Panic. Traditionally, psychotherapy and prescription medications have been most commonly used. Complementary and Alternative Medicines, or CAMs, have grown in popularity in recent years as people look to natural alternatives for dealing with their Anxiety. The choice depends on the preference of the patient. The important thing is to remember that what works for one person may not be right for another. If the first treatment option doesn’t suit the needs of the patient, they should continue their search for the right fit.
Psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy means talking with a trained mental health professional to learn coping skills for dealing with Anxiety. There are different types of mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and licensed counselors, and there are different types of psychotherapy as well. Again, it is all about finding the right situation for the individual.
Research has shown that the most effective form of psychotherapy for Anxiety is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. There are two components to CBT. The cognitive component teaches the patient how to change their thought patterns to overcome their fears. The behavioral component attempts to change the patient’s reactions to anxiety-provoking situations.
One of the behavioral techniques most commonly used with Anxiety patients is called Exposure and Response Prevention. If the sufferer has a specific fear, the therapist encourages them to face their fear and put themselves in a situation where they will have to engage with their fear. By doing this repeatedly, the patient will come to realize that their worst fears are unfounded, thus, with practice, completely extinguishing the fear.
Psychiatrists and general practitioners can prescribe medications for Anxiety. Generally, a person seeking medication will be simultaneously involved in some form of psychotherapy. Medications are not a cure, but they can help control some of the symptoms associated with Anxiety and make it easier to deal with.
Many of the medications used in the treatment of Depression can also help those with Anxiety. The oldest class of anti-depressants, known as tricyclics, were developed in the 1950s and can be useful for people with Anxiety. Two that are often used in cases of Anxiety are Clomipramine and Imipramine.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, were discovered shortly after tricyclics. They aren’t very widely used because they can cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure, and these medications are seen as a last resort for those who do not respond to tricyclics or SSRIs. Phenelzine, Tranylcypromine, and Isoprocarboxazid are MAOIs that are also indicated for use in cases of Anxiety.
The most recent class of anti-depressants, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, help to stabilize levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Some of the SSRIs commonly used to relieve Anxiety are Fluvoxetine, Fluvoxamine, Sertraline, Paroxetine, and Citalopram.
Benzodiazepines relieve the symptoms of Anxiety quickly and with few side effects. People can develop a tolerance to these medications, and they are generally only prescribed for a short period of time because long-term use can lead to dependence. They are not generally suggested for people who have had a history of drug or alcohol abuse issues because these drugs can be highly addictive. Clonazepam, Alprazolam, and Lorazepam are some of the benzodiazepines used to relieve Anxiety.
Complementary and Alternative Medicines
Complementary and Alternative Medicines, or CAMs, are defined as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. Many CAM therapies are supported by scientific research, but, in all cases, there are key questions yet to be answered.
Acupuncture focuses on balancing Qi, or life energy flow, in the body. Certain emotions are associated with specific organs, and imbalance in these organ systems can cause the build-up of negative emotions that must then be released. Acupuncture seeks to release these emotions and restore balance.