How to Decide Which Anxiety Treatment to Choose
It’s only in recent decades that society has begun to fully accept that anxiety is an illness that deserves proper care and attention. In the past, it has been belittled or misdiagnosed as another issue—leading to people being neglected or treated for the wrong condition.
Many people are still reluctant to admit their own mental health difficulties for fear of appearing weak or incapable; but fortunately, with the boom in mental health services and positive advocation, it is easier than ever to find a treatment for anxiety. Here’s how to choose one that works for you.
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What Anxiety Treatments Are Out There?
Although anxiety and other mental illnesses have only recently been given the attention they deserve, this short space of time has allowed many varieties of treatment to develop. Of course, people have been studying the human mind for centuries, but it’s only the last few decades that have fine-tuned these theories and provided more practical solutions. Finding the right treatment will depend on a number of factors that will be outlined below. First, here is a brief list of the most common types of anxiety treatment and how they work:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a treatment for anxiety based on the premise of how thoughts, emotions, and actions are all interlinked. It allows a patient to talk through their experiences with a view to understanding the way their mind and body are connected—especially with regard to their anxiety.
The therapist assists the patient in uncovering their core values so that they can align their actions with their beliefs. This form of therapy also highlights the various thinking errors that lead to anxiety and how thoughts are not always true.
Hypnotherapy is a form of anxiety treatment that reconnects a patient with their subconscious mind in a controlled and safe environment. The hypnotherapist guides the patient into a state of deep relaxation using mental imagery and soothing language, and despite common misconceptions, hypnotherapy doesn’t involve making an individual take any action outside of their control.
You can easily find online hypnotherapy to reduce anxiety, which allows you to access treatment from your home. A hypnotherapist will help their patient achieve a form of focus and openness that can make it easier to access any subconscious anxieties and their causes. It can also be a method of providing respite from the stress of being anxious all the time.
Some people with anxiety find that medication is enough to significantly reduce their symptoms, while others prefer a mix of talking therapy and medication. Of course, there are also people who resist the notion of using medication to treat their anxiety, as this can interfere with other aspects of their life. There is a wide range of anti-anxiety medicines, such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and sedatives, all used to meet different needs. What works for one person’s anxiety may not necessarily be effective against someone else’s. Only professional insight, along with trial and error, will point to the right medication.
Meditation and Mindfulness Training
One of the advantages of mindfulness is the independence it offers. Once you have learned and embraced the tools, mindfulness can be a daily practice that provides ongoing solace. The focus is to bring yourself more closely into the present moment without making value judgments on your own thoughts, your experiences, or the world around you.
It teaches you acceptance and the ability to manage your reactions to events outside your control. This is often key when dealing with anxiety since most fears revolve around being unable to control a specific outcome.
When anxiety is concentrated around a particular subject, exposure therapy may be the best way to address it. This form of therapy involves gradually breaking down the mental barriers a patient has erected to protect themselves from a perceived threat.
The intention is to realign the patient with their core beliefs and help them lead a life based on their goals rather than their fears. Irrational fears such as spiders or clowns can be broken down over time with careful exposure therapy; it’s all about rewiring the mind and creating new associations to undermine the old, unhelpful ones.
Sometimes, a patient may be recommended group therapy either instead of or in addition to one-to-one therapy. There are several benefits to sharing a therapy session with other people who share your anxiety, such as alleviating each individual’s sense of being alone with their fears. You can also learn from the experiences of other people who have led extremely different lives but maintain similarities with you.
Determine Your Needs
It is important to bear in mind that it’s incredibly common to find an overlap between different anxiety diagnoses. For example, someone who experiences PTSD may also have a related phobia, or an individual with OCD might also be living with an eating disorder. Here are a few possible anxiety-related reasons you may need to seek specific kinds of treatment:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD (or post-traumatic stress disorder) can affect anyone. Talking therapies help people with PTSD-related anxiety to reframe their perspective on the trauma that caused their negative mental health. However, practices such as meditation and mindfulness are sometimes avoided if the patient is likely to revisit painful memories or images before they are ready.
Everyone is scared of something. Many people manage their fears rationally so they can continue to function within their daily lives. However, a phobia is a serious and intense fear that will completely distract the individual once it’s been triggered.
Depending on the specific subject of the phobia, a person may be unable to conduct themselves in accordance with their own core beliefs due to fear holding them back. Exposure therapy is particularly effective at reframing the phobia and allowing the patient to regain control over their reactions.
OCD is a mental illness that involves a person holding onto thoughts and performing behaviors compulsively and repetitively. People with OCD may believe that thinking a certain way or doing certain actions will alleviate their anxiety—although this is only ever temporary. CBT can be hugely effective at treating this disorder by giving the patient a clearer understanding of their own mind and how to manage it better.
While depression and anxiety are two vastly different sensations, they are often connected. Someone who experiences prolonged anxiety may occasionally dip into periods of depression as their body and mind need time to recover from the heightened state that anxiety brings.
Medication is useful for people who need a first step towards lifting themselves out of depression, but this can also be achieved through talking therapies.
Since food is essential to survival, eating disorders can quickly lead to serious physical health problems. They are also a mental illness and can, therefore, be treated with therapeutic techniques that are designed for anxiety. Over-eating or under-eating can both be addressed through group therapy sessions and one-to-one appointments. Therapists aim to help their patients to separate feelings of anxiety from eating healthily.
The variations between different treatments for anxiety are not only based on the separate approaches and methodologies but also on the specialists who provide the services. This means that even if you choose a particular form of therapy for your anxiety, but you have trouble trusting your therapist, you should persist and find someone you connect with better.
Anxiety often traps people and prevents them from making productive decisions for their own well-being; however, you can break free from this cycle by taking the first step and choosing a treatment that’s right for you.