Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults. These disorders can be very distressing and debilitating, impairing one’s ability to keep up with work, school, relationships, healthy habits, and other activities. In sum, they can prevent people from leading normal lives.
Thankfully, anxiety is treatable, and there are many methods for overcoming it. This article will discuss various anxiety treatment options for finally overcoming your anxiety disorder.
What Can Anxiety Treatment Help With?
Anxiety can make it difficult to concentrate, make decisions, or stay organized. It can also interfere with sleep and lead to physical symptoms such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, or dizziness.
Anxiety treatment can help lessen these symptoms and improve your quality of life. There are many different anxiety disorders, so it is important to know your anxiety treatment options before choosing one that best meets your needs.
The most common anxiety disorders include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
When a person worries about various things, feeling anxious on most days.
When a person fears everyday social situations; they profoundly fear being criticized or embarrassed, struggling with small talk, assertiveness, and public speaking.
When a person goes to great lengths to avoid a particular situation or object. There are countless phobias because fears differ from person to person – whether heights or spiders.
When a person experiences intense anxiety feelings and symptoms due to panic attacks. The panic attacks typically manifest as dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and sweating.
Anxiety is also present in the following disorders:
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
When a person experiences anxiety due to their constant intrusive thoughts and fears. They typically attempt to relieve their anxiety by engaging in certain behaviors or rituals.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
When a person experiences symptoms such as flashbacks and severe anxiety after experiencing a traumatic event.
Options for Anxiety Treatment
It is important and possible to overcome anxiety with the appropriate anxiety treatment. No matter what type of anxiety a person experiences, having symptoms across several types is common.
In either case, anxiety symptoms can take over a person’s life. They may not go away on their own if left untreated, so it’s important to seek help early.
Anxiety treatment supports recovery for anxiety through several approaches and techniques. Note that the following anxiety treatment options aren’t listed in any particular order, other than by category. That is, where you begin anxiety treatment may be entirely different from someone else.
How you manage your symptoms is entirely up to you. For instance, you might try certain techniques at home before turning to therapy. Or, you might turn to therapy to learn and apply certain techniques. However, it’s common for people to turn to a combination of techniques, habits, and therapy to exercise the most control over their symptoms.
Therapy Options for Anxiety Treatment
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy are three anxiety therapies that effectively treat anxiety disorders.
CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps people understand and change the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their anxiety.
Exposure therapy gradually exposes people to their fear or phobia to help them overcome it. This anxiety treatment involves facing your fears in a safe and controlled setting.
ACT is a type of anxiety treatment that combines mindfulness and acceptance to help people live with anxiety in the present moment.
Techniques for Anxiety Treatment
Anxiety disorders are characterized by restlessness, dread, and apprehension. These feelings make it incredibly difficult to relax, which is where the following techniques can help:
Progressive muscle relaxation
This anxiety treatment involves tightening and then releasing different major muscle groups in the body.
Slow breathing or controlled breathing exercises
This anxiety treatment helps control the body’s response to stress and anxiety through deep, controlled abdominal breathing. The goal is to focus on one’s breathing pattern and chest, stomach, and diaphragm movements. You can count to a predetermined number of seconds as you inhale slowly through the nose and exhale out of the mouth to release tension.
This anxiety treatment involves listening to instructions from a therapist or recording that help you focus on peaceful, calming images. Visualization can be helpful for people who have trouble concentrating or falling asleep.
Mindfulness is a form of awareness that allows people to focus on the present moment. This is helpful as anxiety is typically characterized by fears or worries over the past or future.
Habit Changes for Anxiety Treatment
To manage anxiety, it’s important to make healthy lifestyle choices. Anxiety is usually best managed through a combination of anxiety treatment options and habit changes.
Regular exercise is one anxiety treatment that has been proven to reduce anxiety symptoms in the long term. Exercise reduces stress hormones and increases endorphins—the body’s “feel-good” chemicals—which may help anxiety sufferers.
A healthy diet can also reduce anxiety symptoms. It’s important to minimize caffeine intake and processed foods high in sugar that trigger anxiety.
Medications for Anxiety Treatment
An anxiety treatment plan may include medication if symptoms are moderate to severe. There are two main types of anxiety medication: benzodiazepines and antidepressants.
Self-Development Areas of Anxiety Treatment
Anxiety can make it difficult to maintain positive relationships and communicate effectively with others. Focusing on the following areas and communication skills can help manage anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety treatment can also involve working on improving self-esteem. People with anxiety disorders are likely to have low levels of self-esteem. Anxiety can worsen when accompanied by feelings of shame, worthlessness, or guilt. It can also contribute to fears of being judged by others, leading to isolation, not only in social anxiety disorder cases.
It’s hard to be assertive when you are afraid of speaking up, sparking conflict, or hurting someone’s feelings. These are just a few underlying fears that an anxious person might experience regularly. They interfere with a persons’ ability to communicate their needs, wants, beliefs, opinions, and feelings.
Avoiding assertiveness can lead to a passive interaction style and way of being that only reinforces anxiety and low self-esteem.
Thankfully, there are several practical ways you can improve your self-esteem and assertiveness through improving communication skills. This can include:
-Communicating your boundaries in a clear and calm way
-Asking for what you need
-Using “I” statements to explain the impact of your situation rather than criticizing or blaming another
-Noticing and labeling how you feel before responding calmly, rather than reacting
Finally, the best way to supplement any of the above therapies, techniques, or practices is to learn about your anxiety.
When it feels like your symptoms are taking control over you, remember that knowledge is power. Understanding how anxiety works and why it’s causing certain thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms is fundamental to recovery. Educating yourself on anxiety can help you take a more objective view of your anxiety. This understanding of how anxiety is the body’s ‘flight-or-fight’ response to perceived or impending danger can help contribute to a sense of control over one’s reactions.
These days, it’s easy to find information on anxiety and anxiety treatment. You might choose to educate yourself by reading blogs, articles, or social posts from reputable sources online – whether shared by a therapist or therapy office or online therapy platform – to name a few. Support groups and social networks can also be invaluable sources of encouragement, insight, and advice.
Final Thoughts on Finally Overcoming Your Anxiety
If you aren’t sure where to start with your anxiety treatment, reach out to your doctor. They can help you find a psychologist or counselor specializing in anxiety disorders.
An anxiety treatment plan can include a combination of anxiety therapies, medication, and self-development practices to reduce anxiety symptoms over time. Remember that change will not happen overnight, but anxiety can become manageable with time, effort, and consistency.