The good news is that anxiety disorders respond well to therapy. The therapy approach depends on the the type of anxiety disorder and its severity, but in most cases, anxiety disorders are treated with behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Complimentary treatments are also helpful including self-help techniques such as relaxation techniques, healthy eating habits, reduced alcohol and nicotine, regular exercise and getting enough sleep.
The goal of Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is to teach you how to manage anxiety. It does this by helping you understand how you think and act when you’re anxious.
Cognitive therapy helps you identify the negative, irrational thoughts that occur with your anxiety. You’ll learn to replace these with more positive, realistic thoughts.
Behavioral therapy helps you change how you react to anxiety. You’ll learn coping skills and methods for relaxing to help you better deal with anxiety.
Exposure therapy helps you confront your fears in a safe, controlled environment. Repeated exposure to the feared object or situation - whether in your imagination or in reality - can help you gain a greater sense of control. Facing your fears without experiencing harm can diminish your anxiety around them.
If you have already been diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder — Social Anxiety Disorder for example — the combination of medication and CBT may be the most effective treatment. Some choose to begin with medication alone, in hopes of gaining at least some initial relief of symptoms before starting CBT. Still others want to start with CBT, hoping to be content with the progress they make and add medication only if needed. Some patients begin treatment with medication and CBT therapy simultaneously. For many, this combination approach is the best treatment.
For more information, click on Anxiety Disorders and Treatments.