Treatment for anxiety disorders can include a variety of modalities, including psychotherapy, Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, psychoeducation, support and therapy groups, and stress management techniques. Research shows that CBT is the most effective form of treatment for those coping with anxiety and depression and that the combination of CBT and medication has the best outcome. Improve your sense of calm and well-being by trying a new task listed below.
An important part of self-care is first understanding the problem. Educating yourself on what anxiety is, how it affects you personally and others in general. Learning not only how but why you should learn to reduce symptoms is crucial to positive change.
Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms using a variety of techniques depending on the therapist’s training and the client’s comfort level. An important part of the therapy is building a therapeutic alliance to discover the underlying source of the anxiety and bring about the necessary positive changes in thoughts and behavior.
CBT is widely accepted as the most effective form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. The key principle behind CBT is that your thought patterns affect your emotions, which, in turn, can affect your behaviors. What is most promising about CBT is that it’s short-term and focuses on teaching specific skills to help you manage your worries, fears, and negative thinking patterns. Learning these strategies helps to strengthen the neural connections that lead to long term success. This type of treatment can help you see improvement in your symptoms more quickly as you continue to address the underlying factors that cause the anxiety.
Support groups or therapy groups are an effective way to decrease symptoms of anxiety. This modality offers support from the therapist and group members who are also suffering from similar difficulties. Building this type of cohesiveness provides a way to gain insight, improve symptoms, and feel connected.
There are advantages to taking medication to treat anxiety. Certainly, with severe symptoms a regimen of medication and therapy will provide the best results. Medication treatment of anxiety is generally safe and effective. Four major classes of medications are used to treat anxiety disorders: SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor), tricyclic antidepressant, and benzodiazepine. Work closely with your doctor to find out what medication is right for you.
Learning effective ways to relax your mind and body is imperative to relieving stress and anxiety. There are several ways you can do so with ease:
- Move: take a walk, go to the gym, etc.
- Pick up a hobby – try adult coloring
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Progressive muscle relaxation (tensing and releasing your muscles from head to toe)
- Guided Imagery – watching and/or listening to a relaxing walk or scene.
Mindfulness is, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose in the present moment and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” In other words, being patient, impartial, open, and curious, trusting/accepting yourself and the moment, and letting go of negativity. Mindfulness techniques can include mindful breathing, walking, eating, meditation, and yoga to name a few.
We all know that taking a few deep breaths is a good way to relieve stress and anxiety, but deep breathing also known as abdominal breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing slows down your fight or flight response thus sending a message to your brain to relax. To practice deep breathing try the following: as you inhale through your nose your belly rises — count to 4, exhale through your mouth your belly deflates — count to 4 and repeat 4 to 6 times. Think of your belly as a balloon inflating and deflating. Deep breathing is an effective way to:
- Increase Calm
- Increase Energy
- Decrease Stress
- Improve Digestion
- Improve Immunity
- Stimulates Lymphatic System
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Slows heart rate
In sum, working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. In addition, the strategies listed above can lead to a healthier, happier, less stressed you! Remember this is a very difficult time for all of us amid the chaos of the pandemic. Even returning to the “new normal” can be a highly anxiety provoking situation. You are not alone. One Health is here to support your journey to Wellness!
Professional Life Coach
World Health Organization (WHO).int/news