Therapy for anxiety
Newer types of therapeutic approaches emerge as more and more research is conducted in different areas of psychology. However, a common goal of all therapeutic approaches is to help you understand why you feel the way you feel, what your triggers are, and how you might change your responses and reactions to them. Some therapeutic approaches take a practical direction to alter certain behaviours by reframing your mindset and helping you form healthy coping mechanisms.
Your therapist can use multiple methods as a treatment for anxiety. The methods would depend on your exact diagnosis (if you have one), the nature and severity of symptoms, and your therapist's specialisations. Listed below are some forms of therapy that are commonly used to treat anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
One of the most widely used therapeutic models, CBT has shown remarkable results in treating mood disorders, generalised anxiety disorders, phobias, and panic disorders, among other conditions.
CBT deals with how our thought processes manifest in our behaviour. Hence, the techniques used by therapists following CBT focus on teaching you specific strategies to manage distressing thoughts, identify and understand negative thinking patterns, and replace them with healthy and effective coping mechanisms.
A CBT technique commonly used for anxiety disorders such as specific phobias, the basic premise behind exposure therapy is that you must face your fears. This is done through gradual exposure to your triggers through a step-by-step process called 'systematic desensitisation'. The steps start with relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, and guided imagery. Next, your triggers are listed and ranked according to their intensity. Finally, the object (causing your phobia) is slowly exposed to you by pictures, virtual reality, or in person.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
Initially, this technique was used to treat borderline personality disorder, but over time, it has proven effective for various other disorders, including anxiety. It involves adopting an ‘opposite’ mindset by practising the acceptance of your anxiety while making conscious efforts to change your behaviour. Some strategies used for dialectical behaviour therapy are mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Proven to be an effective treatment for anxiety, this therapeutic method involves identifying your values in life, committing to them, and modifying your actions so that they continually align with those values.
This method involves working on your interpersonal relationships to identify any pressing issues you may have, such as unresolved grief, conflicts with family or friends, unexpected changes in work, and so on. The strategies used for this method are aimed at training you to express and communicate better so that such issues can be prevented in the future. Interpersonal therapy is particularly beneficial for people with social anxiety disorders since it helps develop communication skills.
At times, art therapy is used in combination with CBT. This form used art as a non-verbal way of expression, mindfulness, emotional regulation and relaxation. If you have a creative bent, you can specifically seek out expressive art therapists to help you manage your anxiety.
Medication for anxiety
Alongside therapy, your psychiatrist may also prescribe you some psychiatric meds to help you manage anxiety-related symptoms. These medications commonly include the following:
Medicines like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are commonly used to treat anxiety. These meds work by acting on the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
If you are on antidepressants as well, some of your SSRIs might overlap, so make sure you discuss your complete medical history with your psychiatrist.
Beta-blockers, such as propranolol and atenolol to treat anxiety by controlling your body’s fight-or-flight mechanisms and reducing the effects of excessive stress and anxiety on your heart. These medicines are often prescribed to be taken along with SSRIs.
Although therapy is vital for treating anxiety, making some lifestyle changes can aid the process. Your therapist might also recommend some of the techniques listed below as these help you lead a life with lower anxiety levels in the long run:
- Regular exercise and physical movement
- Relaxation methods like muscle relaxation, yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises
- Following a nutritious diet and having a proper sleep schedule
- Regular support from friends, family, and online communities
- Limiting the use of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs
Seeking professional diagnosis and treatment can do wonders when it comes to managing the symptoms of anxiety disorders. And that is exactly what Rocket Health's team of experienced, non-judgmental mental health practitioners can help you with! Click on the link below to get started.