How to treat anxiety?
Broadly classified, the treatment of anxiety can be a number of different types. Type of treatment is often based on the type of anxiety disorder that the patient is suffering from. There is a significant overlap in the type of treatment that is provided to the patient though the individual elements within each treatment module may be different.
In this article, we shall briefly take a look at the different treatment options that can be available for patients suffering from anxiety.
Psychological treatment appears to be the first line of management when it comes to treating anxiety disorders. Treatments can entail cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy and general counselling.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is considered as one of the best treatments for generalised anxiety disorder. It is also used in treating patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is a slow yet effective process where patients are trained to identify abnormal behavioural patterns along with abnormal beliefs that seem to be driving the anxious behaviour. It identifies the various issues that the patient may be going through and comes up with different solutions that can help manage these effectively.
Cognitive behavioural therapy often takes a few months before any sort of benefit is obtained. Patients may require long sessions once a week so that the triggers and behaviours may be altered effectively and for the long-term.
Relaxation therapy is a form of psychological therapy that is used to manage phobias and generalised anxiety disorder. In this treatment, patients are taught how to relax their entire body along with the various muscles swiftly when presented with any situations that can trigger an anxiety attack. As is the case with cognitive behavioural therapy, treatment is offered by a specialist and requires long sessions that are carried out over a period of months for it to be effective.
Exposure therapy involves exposing the patient to the triggers that bring on anxiety in a controlled environment repeatedly. Doing so allows the patient to realise that they can in fact have control over the situation and over time this can help control their anxiety attacks
In addition to psychological therapy, often patients also require tablets to help manage anxiety. Depending on the underlying type of anxiety disorder, treatments may vary. Patients may be prescribed long-term doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as fluoxetine and paroxetine, pregabalin and venlafaxine. In the short-term, sedatives such as benzodiazepines can be helpful.
As is the case with any condition, self-medication is never advised and patient should always seek advice from their psychologist or general practitioner regarding treatment. It is also important to bear in mind that tablets do not act immediately and need a few weeks before any sort of effect is evident. Side-effects such as nausea, loss of appetite, sweating, difficulty sleeping and change in bowel habits can be seen with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In the event of these side-effects being troublesome, it is advised to see your treating physician.
Anxiety disorders are best treated to psychological and medical therapy in combination. Treatment can take months to show affect but behavioural modifications can eventually help control this condition and allow patients to stand leading a normal life.