Treating Anxiety Disorders With Therapy
Whether youre suffering from panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, unrelenting worries, or an incapacitating phobia, its important to know that you dont have to live with anxiety and fear. Treatment can help, and for many anxiety problems, therapy is often the most effective option. Thats because anxiety therapyunlike anxiety medicationtreats more than just the symptoms of the problem. Therapy can help you uncover the underlying causes of your worries and fears learn how to relax look at situations in new, less frightening ways and develop better coping and problem-solving skills. Therapy gives you the tools to overcome anxiety and teaches you how to use them.
Anxiety disorders differ considerably, so therapy should be tailored to your specific symptoms and diagnosis. If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder , for example, your treatment will be different from someone who needs help for anxiety attacks. The length of therapy will also depend on the type and severity of your anxiety disorder. However, many anxiety therapies are relatively short-term. According to the American Psychological Association, many people improve significantly within 8 to 10 therapy sessions.
Online vs. in-person therapy
However, not all online therapy is the same. Communicating via a messaging app, phone, or email, for example, is no substitute for live face-to-face interaction using video chat.
Read: Online Therapy: Is it Right for You?
Special Benzodiazepine Risk Factors
Anyone who takes benzodiazepines can experience unpleasant or dangerous side effects. But certain individuals are at a higher risk:
People over 65. Older adults are more sensitive to the sedating effects of benzodiazepines. Even small doses can cause confusion, amnesia, loss of balance, and cognitive impairment that looks like dementia. Benzodiazepine use in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of falls, broken hips and legs, and car accidents. Long-term benzodiazepine use also increases the risk of Alzheimers disease and dementia.
People with a history of substance abuse. Because theyre physically addicting and on their own and dangerous when combined with alcohol and other drugs, anyone with a current or former substance abuse problem should use benzodiazepines only with extreme caution.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women. Benzodiazepine use during pregnancy can lead to dependence in the developing baby, with withdrawal following birth. Benzodiazepines are also excreted in breast milk. Therefore, pregnant women need to have a thorough discussion about the risks and benefits of these medications with their prescribing doctor. If medication is necessary, the goal is the smallest effective dose.
The connection between benzodiazepines and accidents
How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed
If you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Theyll start with a complete medical history and physical examination.
There are no lab tests or scans that can diagnose anxiety disorders. But your provider may run some of these tests to rule out physical conditions that may be causing symptoms.
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Making Anxiety Therapy Work For You
There is no quick fix for anxiety. Overcoming an anxiety disorder takes time and commitment. Therapy involves facing your fears rather than avoiding them, so sometimes youll feel worse before you get better. The important thing is to stick with treatment and follow your therapists advice. If youre feeling discouraged with the pace of recovery, remember that therapy for anxiety is very effective in the long run. Youll reap the benefits if you see it through.
For help finding an anxiety disorder therapist:
In the U.S.: use the Find a Therapist Directory.
Australia: Find a Psychologist.
South Africa: search Anxiety/Panic.
I Need Relief And I Need It Now
So where does that leave you if youre suffering? Even when anxiety relief comes with side effects and dangers, that can still sound like a fair trade when panic and fear are ruling your life.
The bottom line is that theres a time and place for anxiety medication. If you have severe anxiety thats interfering with your ability to function, medication may be helpfulespecially as a short-term treatment. However, many people use anti-anxiety medication when therapy, exercise, or other self-help strategies would work just as well or better, minus the drawbacks.
Anxiety medications can ease symptoms, but theyre not right for everyone and theyre not the only answer. Its up to you to evaluate your options and decide whats best for you.
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When Should I Seek Professional Help For My Anxious Child
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and our experts, you should consult a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience treating children with an anxiety disorder when the childs behavior or anxiety:
- Disrupts the household and interferes with family activities and life
- When the child gets upset multiple times a day or week
- When the frequency and intensity of the fears escalate .
- When the anxiety leads to significant avoidance behavior. The child continually and consistently makes excuses to avoid school or other situations that may provoke anxiety.
- When the disorder is making it difficult for the child to interact with, make or keep friends.
- When sleep habits are disrupted
- When you begin to see compulsive behaviors and rituals such as repeated hand washing, counting, checking things and when the child refuses or is unable to leave the house without performing these rituals.
- When your child shows a pattern of physical symptoms that are disruptive and detrimental to the child
- When your child experiences panic attacks characterized by heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, hyperventilation.
Treating Addiction With Anxiety Disorders
More Americans suffer from anxiety disorders than from any other type of mental illness, with over 18 percent of adults in the US experiencing some form of anxiety, according to the National Institute on Mental Health.
Unlike the normal, healthy reactions that everyone experiences in response to stressful or dangerous situations, clinical anxiety is characterized by persistent, often unfounded fears that can interfere with work, close relationships, and social activities. The symptoms of anxiety can be both physical and psychological, and addressing these symptoms requires a multidisciplinary approach to treatment.
In an effort to cope with their symptoms, it is not uncommon for people with anxiety disorders to misuse alcohol or drugs. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that individuals with anxiety are twice as likely to suffer from substance abuse as the general population. Unfortunately, attempts at self-medication often backfire by intensifying the effects of this psychiatric condition. Alcohol and drug use can worsen the psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety, reinforcing the need to use more of these substances in order to function normally. The result is a cycle of substance abuse that can lead to chemical dependence and addiction.
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Are There Risks From Taking Prozac For Anxiety
Prozac has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning about a medication from the FDA.
People with major depressive disorder may experience worsening of their depression, suicidal thoughts, or behavior. The risk is higher for children and adolescents under age 25.
Prozac may cause loss of appetite and weight loss. This may be serious in some people. Your doctor will need to monitor your weight while youre taking Prozac.
How To Help Children With Anxiety
Anxiety in children is natural and common. In fact, one in eight children will experience anxiety. As children grow up and learn from their parents, friends, and caretakers, they typically develop the skills to calm themselves and cope with feelings of anxiety.
But, anxiety in children can also become chronic and persistent, developing into an anxiety disorder. Uncontrolled anxiety may begin to interfere with daily activities, and children may avoid interacting with their peers or family members.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder might include:
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Types Of Therapy For Anxiety
The goal of all therapeutic approaches is to help you understand why you feel the way you feel, what your triggers are, and how you might change your reaction to them. Some types of therapy even teach practical techniques to help reframe your negative thinking and change your behaviors.
Anxiety disorders differ considerably, so therapy is tailored to your specific symptoms and diagnosis. It can be conducted in an individual, family, couple, or group setting. How often you meet with your therapist and for how long will depend on your specific symptoms and diagnosis.
Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals use several types of anxiety therapy. The choice of therapy also depends on your diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms.
The Role Of Medication In Anxiety Treatment
When youre overwhelmed by heart-pounding panic, paralyzed by fear, or exhausted from yet another sleepless night spent worrying, youll do just about anything to get relief. And theres no question that when anxiety is disabling, medication may help. But are drugs always the best answer?
Many different types of medications are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including traditional anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines and newer options like SSRI antidepressants . These drugs can provide temporary relief, but they also come with side effects and safety concernssome significant.
They are also not a cure. In fact, there are many questions about their long-term effectiveness. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, benzodiazepines lose their therapeutic anti-anxiety effect after 4 to 6 months of regular use. And a recent analysis reported in JAMA Psychiatry found that the effectiveness of SSRIs in treating anxiety has been overestimated, and in some cases is no better than placebo.
Whats more, it can be very difficult to get off anxiety medications without difficult withdrawals, including rebound anxiety that can be worse than your original problem.
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When To See Your Gp
Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, you should see your GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or is causing you distress.
Your GP will ask you about your symptoms and your worries, fears and emotions to try to find out if you could have GAD.
Read more about diagnosing GAD
Precautions When Taking Prozac
Prozac may not be safe for you if you have certain health or medical conditions. Ask your doctor for more information about the risks and benefits of Prozac for you.
- Liver disease. If you have problems with your liver, your doctor may need to adjust your dose of Prozac or consider other medications to manage your anxiety.
- Seizures. If you have a history of seizure disorder, your doctor will discuss your risks if you choose to take Prozac.
- Bipolar 1 disorder. Prozac can increase the risk of manic episodes when used alone in people with bipolar disorder.
- Blood clotting disorders. If youre taking medications like warfarin to thin your blood, Prozac can increase your risk of bleeding.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding. It isnt known if Prozac is safe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of Prozac if youre pregnant or breastfeeding.
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Do Dogs Like It When You Talk To Them
The canines preferred to spend more time with people who spoke to them in dog-speak and used dog-relevant language, according to the researchers. The dogs respond most positively to the combination of pitch and substance. The findings of the researchers were published in the journal Animal Cognition.
Types Of Anxiety Disorders In Children
: Excessive worrying that something bad will happen if the child is not with their parents, caregiver, or anyone to whom they are attached. The child may be reluctant or refuse to stay at a relative or friends house, sleep alone or go to school. Many children experience separation anxiety between 18 months and three years old when it is normal to feel some anxiety when a parent leaves the room or goes out of sight. Usually, children can be distracted from these feelings. However, separation anxiety may surface or resurface when the child is older and especially between ages 7 and 9.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Chronic anxiety and excessive worry about everything and everyday life. A child with GAD worries about the meaning of a canceled play date or a delayed response to a text. Children with GAD fret about bad things happening to people they love or that no one will come to the birthday party they didnt want in the first place. The worry is overblown in relation to the events that sparked the worry. GAD is exhausting as children worry chronically and constantly and cant control these thoughts. In addition, children with GAD often dont trust their instincts and seek constant approval or reassurance from others.
A panic attack usually lasts about 15-30 minutes whereas the resulting fear of another attack persists and that fear of panic returning is what triggers avoidance behavior to avoid another attack.
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How Can I Best Cope With An Anxiety Disorder
There are several steps you can take to cope with anxiety disorder symptoms. These strategies can also make your treatment more effective:
- Explore stress management: Learn ways to manage stress, such as through meditation.
- Join support groups: These groups are available in-person and online. They encourage people with anxiety disorders to share their experiences and coping strategies.
- Get educated: Learn about the specific type of anxiety disorder you have so you feel more in control. Help friends and loved ones understand the disorder as well so they can support you.
- Limit or avoid caffeine: Many people with anxiety disorder find that caffeine can worsen their symptoms.
- Talk to your healthcare provider: Your provider is your partner in your care. If you feel like treatment isnt working or have questions about your medication, contact your provider. Together, you can figure out how to best move forward.
How To Help Teens With Anxiety
Teenagers may have many reasons to be anxious. Tests, college visits, and first dates all pop up in these important years. But teenagers who feel anxious or experience symptoms of anxiety frequently may have an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety in teenagers may include nervousness, shyness, isolationist behaviors, and avoidance. Likewise, anxiety in teens may lead to unusual behaviors. They may act out, perform poorly in school, skip social events, and even engage in substance or alcohol use.
For some teens, depression may accompany anxiety. Diagnosing both conditions is important so that treatment can address the underlying issues and help relieve symptoms.
The most common treatments for anxiety in teenagers are talk therapy and medication. These treatments also help address depression symptoms.
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Listen To Good Mood Music
Music can have a powerful effect on your mood and on anxiety. They key however is to not just choose songs you like. but also make sure that you are listening to music that represents the way you want to feel. Happy or relaxing music can directly impact your mood and the way you feel.
While many people find it soothing to listen to angry music when theyâre angry or sad music when theyâre sad, the truth is that this type of music will only help you get in touch with those negative emotions. That won’t help you feel better. When you’re trying to stop anxiety, you should listen to music that will help you feel the way you want to feel.