CBT and other anxiety therapy can be very effective for anxiety disorders. Learn how it can help you to stop worrying and overcome your fears.
Affecting over 40 million adults, anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States. While everyone has experienced anxiety at some point in their life, chronic anxiety can be debilitating and affect every aspect of one’s life.
Anxiety can come in many forms, ranging from generalized anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, and constant worrying. Regardless of how you experience anxiety, it’s important to know that you are not alone.
Fortunately, anxiety and anxiety disorders can be highly treatable. When symptoms of anxiety persist, treatments such as therapy, medication, and lifestyle change offer solutions for long-term relief.
Speaking with a mental health professional can help you determine the cause of your anxiety and recommend the appropriate course of treatment.
What does a therapist do for anxiety?
For individuals suffering from chronic anxiety, panic attacks, worry, or obsessive thoughts, therapy can be an effective solution. Unlike medication, therapy aims to address the root cause of your stress and helps you develop essential tools to overcome and manage your symptoms.
By working with a therapist, you will learn how to identify the root causes of your worries, change your perception of fear, develop better coping mechanisms, learn new relaxation techniques, and adopt important problem-solving strategies for reducing stress.
What type of therapist is best for anxiety?
There are a number of mental health professionals who may be involved in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and psychiatric nurses. Patients are also sometimes diagnosed and prescribed medication by primary care physicians. Choosing the right clinician all depends on your symptoms and what type of treatment is needed to resolve your anxiety.
Psychotherapy is usually recommended as the first line of treatment for anxiety. Therefore, people usually begin by seeing a licensed psychologist, counselor, or social worker to uncover the underlying cause of anxiety and develop coping mechanisms.
In cases of severe anxiety, working with a psychiatrist may be beneficial for a combination of medication and psychotherapy. If you have a physical condition that is contributing to your anxiety, it is best to visit your primary care physician for an evaluation and treatment.
It’s important to note, however, that primary care physicians do not address emotional issues that often occur with anxiety. To work through emotional stress and trauma, a licensed therapist is often the best choice.
If you are suffering from chronic anxiety and think or may have an anxiety disorder, do not delay on treatment. If you are unsure who to see, start by talking to your primary care physician. They will help you explore your different treatment options and refer you to the appropriate mental health professional.
What are common treatments for anxiety?
While it's normal to feel anxiety from time to time, persistent anxiety can interfere with work, school, social situations, or personal relationships. Luckily, most cases of anxiety respond well to treatment. Depending on the causes of anxiety, treatment may consist of psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle modification, or a combination of treatments.
For individuals suffering from anxiety, talk therapy with a trained mental health professional has been proven to be highly successful.
In cases where anxiety is a result of trauma or emotional issues, psychotherapy can help you uncover and work through traumatic life events and negative feelings.
Using a variety of methods, your therapist can help you improve coping skills, reduce psychological distress, and change negative thinking patterns.
Psychotherapy methods utilized at CHE Behavioral Health Services include the following:
- Psychodynamic therapy examines unconscious processes that manifest in a patient's current behavior.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that teaches people how to identify and alter destructive thought patterns that affect their behavior and emotions.
- Humanistic or existential therapy emphasizes a person's individual nature rather than comparing similarities between related groups of people.
- Interpersonal therapy focuses on resolving interpersonal problems for symptom recovery.
- Eclectic or integrative therapy adapts to the specific needs of each patient, depending on the problem, the treatment goals, and the person's motivation.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy helps individuals accept their emotions and behaviors rather than avoiding or fighting them.
Occasionally, medication may be necessary to alleviate acute anxiety or panic attacks. Medication regimens may differ depending on the type of anxiety disorder. Some medications help prevent anxiety, while others help treat an acute situation.
Medications may be prescribed alone or in conjunction with psychotherapy. As some anti-anxiety drugs can be habit-forming, they are typically prescribed only as-needed or for short-term usage.
Research shows that lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, healthier eating, and meditation can be effective in reducing anxiety.
Other methods like aromatherapy and deep breathing exercises can also be helpful for coping with symptoms of anxiety. While lifestyle change can greatly help anxiety sufferers, it typically works best when combined with other therapies.
Why do people develop anxiety?
Anxiety can have a variety of causes. In many cases, anxiety is brought on by a combination of factors, such as stressful life events, mental disorders, physical disorders, drug abuse, and other factors.
Common mental conditions that may causes anxiety include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Phobic disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Stress disorders
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorders
Life events that may trigger anxiety:
- Death of a loved one
- Stress from school or work
- Financial stress
- Divorce or relationship issues
- Stress from world events
Other factors that may lead to anxiety:
- Illicit drug use
- Side effects from medication
- Symptoms of a medical illness, such as heart attack, stroke, or low blood sugar
Can anxiety be cured permanently?
Genetics, life experiences, and environment all influence a person's tendency to be anxious. A natural part of the human condition, anxiety cannot be completely cured. However, most anxiety is a temporary state that should go away once a stressor or trigger has passed.
While anxiety and anxiety disorders can't be cured completely, they are highly treatable and manageable. If you are suffering from prolonged anxiety, treatments like talk therapy, medication, and lifestyle change can greatly reduce symptoms and get you back to living a normal life.
When to Seek Treatment for Anxiety
Anxiety is normal from time to time, but it shouldn’t take over your life. Here are the top 5 signs you should seek treatment for your anxiety:
You feel overwhelmed frequently.
Work, finance, public speaking, or life changes are all examples of things that can make a person anxious. While anxiety is a natural human response, it should only be temporary and fade when the stressor has passed. If your anxiety is severe, keeps you constantly worrying, or you are getting frequent panic attacks, you may need to speak to a mental health professional.
Your anxiety is affecting your physical health.
Prolonged and intense anxiety can lead to a wide range of physical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, colds, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms along with your anxiety, you may benefit from seeing a mental health professional. You may also want to consult with your primary care physician to rule out any other medical conditions.
Your relationships are suffering.
Anxiety can affect individuals in a variety of ways. Some may isolate themselves from close friends and family. For others, anxiety may manifest into anger or agitation. When anxiety begins to affect personal relationships, a trained therapist can help you work through your emotions and develop tools to improve communication with loved ones.
Anxiety occurs frequently or daily.
Frequent anxiety or panic attacks can take a significant toll on your ability to function throughout the day. When daily anxiety begins to affect school, work, relationships, or daily activities, it may be beneficial to reach out for help. A trained therapist can help you overcome your emotions and help you develop strategies to cope throughout the day.
You recently suffered a trauma.
Trauma and major life events, such as divorce or the death of a loved one, can lead to immense stress and anxiety. When anxiety or stress from trauma begins to take over a person’s life, and they struggle to move past it, seeking therapy can help them work through the grieving process and adopt healthy behaviors to move forward.
How many therapy sessions are needed for anxiety?
The length of therapy for anxiety depends on the anxiety disorder and severity of symptoms. For example, a person with a generalized panic disorder may require different treatment than someone with a phobia.
Most anxiety treatment plans are short-term, and according to the American Psychological Association, many people notice significant improvement after 8 to 10 therapy sessions. As everyone experiences anxiety differently, your health professional will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan to meet your specific needs.
Anxiety Therapy with CHE Behavioral Health Services
Left untreated, anxiety can impair a person’s mental health and affect their ability to lead an everyday life. When anxiety becomes severe or persistent, therapy can relieve symptoms and help individuals regain their normal lives.
There is no shame in reaching out for help if you are struggling with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is common, and relief is just around the corner. At CHE Behavioral Health Services, we offer a variety of treatment options for personalized and effective anxiety care. To learn more about our services, please call 888-515-3834.