For individuals who have an anxiety disorder, finding the best treatment plan can take time.
Trial and error is common when finding the right therapist and the best treatment methods that help alleviate anxiety symptoms and improve the quality of life.
If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, know that you are not alone. Anxiety disorders affect over 18% of the U.S. population alone.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, and there are many effective anxiety treatments available. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common anxiety treatments and the benefits and drawbacks of each treatment.
Anxiety Treatment Methods
Different anxiety disorders require different psychological treatments.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is essential in the treatment of anxiety disorders and recovery. There are various evidence-based treatments that help individuals manage generalized anxiety, mood disorders, and many other mental health issues. Here are the common anxiety treatments for anxiety disorders.
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people identify and change negative thinking patterns and behaviors that contribute to their anxiety. CBT has been shown to be an effective anxiety treatment for all types of anxiety disorders.
Pros of CBT
- CBT is a proven effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, mood disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, PSTD, OCD, and substance abuse or addiction
- Patients learn new skills to manage symptoms and cope or build new positive habits that can help prevent relapse
- Patients develop coping skills that help manage anxiety symptoms effectively and improve their overall quality of life
- CBT can be as effective as medication in treating anxiety disorders or may be more helpful in cases where medication alone has not worked
- CBT is highly structured, meaning it can be done in support groups, via online therapy, in self-help books, etc.
Cons of CBT
- It can take up to 16 weeks to see improvements and benefits of the work done in CBT
- CBT requires a lot of time and effort, both in therapy sessions and completing homework on your own time
- As you confront emotions and anxieties, you may experience discomfort in expressing emotions or may temporarily worsen anxiety
- CBT focuses on current negative thoughts and behaviors and does not address the potential underlying causes of anxiety (i.e. childhood trauma)
2. Interpersonal Behavior Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal behavior therapy is all about learning how to communicate and express emotions in your important relationships.
Commonly used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental disorders, IPT teaches patients how to identify interpersonal issues, including communication problems, conflict with loved ones, and avoidance issues.
Pros of IPT
- Patients learn how to communicate effectively and express emotions in a healthy way
- IPT is effective at treating a wide array of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, disordered eating, substance abuse issues, postpartum depression, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder
- IPT supports patients through relationship role disputes, life transitions, grief, and attachment issues
- Helps with mood regulation and emotional expression
- Patients can unlearn unhealthy patterns of interaction and communication
- It can be conducted in individual therapy or in group settings
Cons of IPT
- Clients have to be ready and willing to change in order for IPT to work. They can not complete this therapy for someone else, it has to be done with their full cooperation and commitment
- IPT requires 10 to 16 weeks of treatment with a mental health specialist to see results
3. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on the psychological roots of emotional suffering and how those lead to anxiety disorders. Working with a mental health specialist, patients will learn self-reflection and self-examination strategies to discover the problematic patterns in their lives.
Pros of Psychodynamic psychotherapy
- It’s an effective method of therapy for personal growth and healing emotional trauma
- It increases self-awareness, so the patient is more capable of making the best possible choices for their lives
Cons of Psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy is not a short-term treatment; it is continuous and long-term work
- This form of therapy isn’t as focused as CBT or DBT; it focuses more on helping patients find answers and solutions within themselves
4. Exposure therapy
In exposure therapy, patients learn to accept their anxiety while working to change their thoughts and behaviors. It involves a person facing what they fear, whether that be a phobia or a trigger that is imagined or in real life.
Pros of Exposure therapy
- Exposure to feared activities or situations in a safe environment helps reduce fear and decrease avoidance
- Between 60 and 90% of patients who complete exposure therapy experience mild to zero symptoms of the original disorder
- Exposure therapy can be combined with CBT and relaxation techniques for additional effectiveness
- Can treat depression, chronic anxiety, PTSD, OCD, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobias
- The patient gains life skills, coping strategies, and calming techniques they can use post-therapy and in the future
- It can be done in various settings, including online therapy and support groups
Cons of Exposure therapy
- It can worsen anxiety or related disorders initially before improvement
- Treatment is long-term and can be time-consuming to complete when compared to other therapy modalities
- Exposure therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and some patients may not find relief
- May not treat patients with severe mental health problems or anxiety-related issues
Medication is often the first line of defense when treating anxiety. Clinical studies show that medication alone is not as effective in treating anxiety as when it is paired with behavioral therapy. Medication is not effective for every patient, and many individuals develop a tolerance to medication, needing an increased dose over time for it to remain effective.
Common medications used to reduce anxiety include the following:
1. Benzodiazepines to promote muscle relaxation and relax the mind
2. Buspirone alters mood-regulating chemicals in the brain to treat both short-term and long-term anxiety disorders
3. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants that improve the body’s serotonin levels and reduce physical symptoms of anxiety and depression
4. Tricyclic antidepressants are similar to SSRIs in improving serotonin levels
5. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) boost the body’s serotonin and norepinephrine levels by blocking or delaying reuptake
Pros of anxiety medication
- Several types of medication are available to treat anxiety disorders, including antidepressants, beta-blockers, and anti-anxiety medications
- A wide variety of medications can ease anxiety symptoms; if you take one that doesn’t help, there are many other drugs to try
- Some anxiety medications can be taken in short-term scenarios (before surgery) and can provide immediate relief
- Medications can also help improve an individual’s sense of well-being, improve focus and clarity
Cons of anxiety medication
- Medication is not a treatment plan in itself; patients should use their prescribed medication in conjunction with other anxiety treatments, like psychotherapy, per their doctor’s instructions
- Medication often takes several weeks to start working properly and for patients to effectively feel a change in their mental health conditions
- The adverse effects of anxiety medication can cause dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, vomiting, etc.
- Finding the right dosage of medication takes trial and error; you may start on a low dose and find you need a higher dose for the medication to be effective. Alternatively, you may start on too high of a dose and experience uncomfortable side effects before lowering the dosage.
- Patients can build a tolerance to medication, needing an increase in dosage over time in order for it to remain effective in treating anxiety and other mental illness
6. Natural Remedies
Natural remedies can be used in conjunction with the modalities listed above, as per a doctor’s instructions. Many patients find relief and support when introducing some holistic methods into their daily routine, such as:
- Staying active
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol
- Smoking cessation
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Limit caffeine intake
- Attend support groups
- Prioritize healthy sleep patterns
- Deep breathing techniques
- Herbal supplements and aroma therapy
Natural remedies should not be the only treatment method you seek if you are experiencing severe or prolonged anxiety. While these efforts help individuals achieve reduced anxiety, they should complement an anxiety treatment plan that is created by a healthcare professional.
Find the ideal anxiety treatment plan at Clear Recovery Center.
There is help out there to treat chronic anxiety, and asking for help is the first step in recovery.
At Clear Recovery Center, our anxiety treatment plan involves making lifestyle changes like reducing caffeine intake, building healthy sleep patterns, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol and drug use. If you are struggling with an anxiety disorder, Clear Recovery Center can help. We pride ourselves on being providers of outstanding mental health care and online anxiety treatment that is both effective and long-lasting.