Anxiety is a normal part of life; We all need a little anxiety to motivate us to move from one task to another, such as getting out of bed on time to get ourselves to work, organize a holiday party, or plan a trip. We need healthy levels of anxiety to force us out of complacency and propel us into action. Even the “flight-or-flight” response we experience when in true danger, such as when being chased by a lion, is essential to our adapting to situations in a ways that increases our chances of success or survival.
Anxiety is pathological, however, when it is experienced in situations that do not warrant impulsive action or a stress response. Excessive anxiety not only leads to discomfort or fear when one should feel at ease or safe, but it often leads to unnecessary avoidances of many life experiences. Pathological anxiety, in its many forms, can be a tough condition to cope with on a day-to-day basis due to its combination of emotional and physical symptoms. In most cases, anxiety begins with some type of mental trigger, and then symptoms begin to spread, creating physiological reactions throughout the body. It is important to recognize, however, that while anxiety disorder symptoms can be serious and uncomfortable, relief is possible with appropriate treatment. There are many different types of anxiety treatments available, and these approaches can be tailored to specific symptoms and needs.
The most important step an individual with chronic anxiety can make is to actively seek anxiety treatment. There are a variety of management options available:
Types of anxiety treatment
The different anxiety treatment approaches usually fall into one of three categories medication, psychotherapy, and alternative/complementary therapies.
Medication is frequently used as an anxiety treatment in order to alter chemicals in the brain involved in stress. Benzodiazepines, for instance, effect brain cell receptors in a way that reduced brain excitation and results in muscle relaxation, reduced worrying, and — at higher doses — increased sleep. Benzodiazepines are anxiety treatments that are potentially habit-forming, so it is important to avoid changing your doses without guidance from your physician. Serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, such as Paxil (paroxetine) and Prozac (fluoxetine), are also utilized extensively in anxiety treatment, as well as antidepressants.
As far as non-medication anxiety treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is frequently effective. Anxiety sufferers are taught, through CBT, to recognize the particular thoughts and behaviors that lead to feelings of anxiety and tension. The goal is to teach the person to manage triggers of anxiety in a step-wise fashion, slowly developing confidence in their ability to cope, as well as increased habituation to situational triggers of their anxiety.
Further, there are a few alternative and complementary options to anxiety treatment. Some of these are herbal remedies and the use of mind-body connections. Acupuncture is also a very effective approach to excessive anxiety management.
Combining Different Approaches to Anxiety Treatment
It is a good idea to take a œteam approach to anxiety treatment. Many successful courses of anxiety treatment combine several different options. This can be particularly effective if healthcare providers — including therapists, psychiatrists, and internists — stay in contact with one another. A successful integration of one or more of these anxiety treatment options will maximize the chances for a life free of excessive levels of anxiety.
If you are at the point of seeking anxiety treatment, it is likely that you have endured symptoms for an extended period. Try to keep in mind what life was like before the anxiety disorder, as this can motivate you to undertake and maintain an anxiety treatment plan. Anxiety treatment can be successful, but it is up to you to take the first step.
Article content, © Kira Stein, MD, APC. | West Coast Life Center