Treatment Options For Anxiety

Mental health disorders are on the rise, and anxiety is among the most common. The severity of the disorder can range from mild to completely debilitating, and what treatment a person requires can be specific to the individual. Typically a doctor will advise that the a sufferer undergoes psychological therapy, a course of medication, or a combination of the two.

In the long term, psychological therapy has been shown to treat anxiety disorder more effectively and the results will normally be more long lasting. However, that is not to say that it is the best course of treatment for everyone. Your family doctor can discuss your specific needs with you, and come up with a course of treatment which is best suited to your individual requirements.

Psychological Treatments For Anxiety

Although many of the symptoms of anxiety are physical, it is predominantly a psychological disorder both in terms of how it manifests and the root causes of the problem. Therefore many of the treatments focus on helping the patient to develop cognitive strategies for coping with anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common anxiety treatments, and the one which demonstrates the highest success rate. In over half of cases, patients will make a full recovery through the use of CBT alone.

CBT helps the patient to identify unrealistic and unhealthy thought patterns and beliefs, and helps you to develop techniques to replace these with more realistic beliefs and balanced behaviors. Since anxiety involves a lot of faulty thought processes -such as fixating on events which will probably never happen – this can be an effective treatment approach. Many patients learn to respond to situations positively, where they may have become anxious in the past.

Applied Relaxation

Applied relaxation is a form of therapy which was originally developed to treat phobias, but it has also proven effective for disorders such as generalized anxiety. A trained therapist teaches the patient to relax their muscles in a specific way, when in a situation where they would normally experience anxiety. Controlling the body’s physiology can have big benefits for the body’s psychological response too.

Learning to use applied relaxation effectively takes time. On average, an anxiety sufferer will need 15 hour long sessions before they become proficient. Studies have shown applied relaxation to be just as effective as CBT when used properly.

Medication For Anxiety Disorders

A range of medications are used to treat anxiety. Most doctors prefer to only try medication if psychological therapies have proved ineffective, or if the patient’s anxiety is particularly severe. This is because medications simply mask the signs of the disorder, rather than offering a cure for the root cause. However, if the anxiety is controlling a person’s life then the medication can provide enough relief for them to start dealing with the psychological aspects of their condition. Here are some of the medications which may be prescribed.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are actually antidepressants, but since many people with anxiety also have low levels of serotonin the medication can also be used for anxiety and panic disorders. This medication gradually increases levels of serotonin – one of the brain’s feel good chemicals – by inhibiting the amount of serotonin the receptors can take in. It will take time for the brain to adapt to this artificial stimulation, so the patient will be started off on a low dose.

When it comes to anxiety medication, SSRIs are one of the safest. However, many patients will still experience mild side effects at first. This can include a dry mouth, loss of appetite, nausea or insomnia.

Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

If SSRIs do not work for a patient, then a doctor will normally switch them to a drug such as venlafaxine. This is a serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor, which helps to rebalance chemicals in the brain. It has similar side effects to SSRIs.


Most people know that antihistamines are used to treat allergies, but they can also be used as a short term treatment for anxiety. This is because they have a calming effect on the brain. If the anxiety is mild, this inhibition of symptoms can give the person the time they need to recover.

Only a doctor can advise you which form of treatment is the best for you.