Effective treatments for anxiety include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or medications. The goal of both treatment approaches is to greatly improve your quality of life.
CBT is goal-oriented and can assist you to learn new ways of thinking, practice positive behaviors, and take active steps to move beyond your symptoms. Medications work in various ways to reduce the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.
If you are not already receiving mental health care, a visit with your primary care provider may be a good place to start. Your provider may be able to recommend a behavioral health specialist for additional evaluation and treatment. You may need to try several types of treatment before finding the best one for managing your symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One of the most effective treatments for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a short-term treatment that helps people understand the anxiety they experience, manage the distressful thoughts and feelings, and identify beliefs and thoughts that may prolong the distress. With CBT people learn more adaptive ways of thinking and coping that result in relief.
Two specific components of CBT are cognitive therapy and exposure therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying, challenging, and then neutralizing the unhelpful thoughts that are behind anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy focuses on often gradually confronting fears and overcoming avoidance with new skills and a sense of mastery. The overarching goal is for people to overcome anxiety problems and improve their quality of life.
Anti-anxiety medications help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. The most common anti-anxiety medications are called benzodiazepines, which can treat generalized anxiety disorder. For panic disorder or social anxiety disorder, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or other antidepressants are more common.
Consult your psychiatrist about the benefits, risks and possible side effects of anti-anxiety medications.