If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, know that you are not alone. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA) notes that anxiety disorders affect over 40 million Americans every year, making them the most common mental health condition in the United States.
There are different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder (PD), Social Anxiety Disorder, specific phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Additionally, about half of individuals diagnosed with depressive disorders are also affected by anxiety.
The good news is that anxiety can be treated. Anxiety treatment works to reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms through behavioral management. Here are five effective anxiety treatments:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is one of the most common treatment approaches for anxiety disorders due to its effectiveness and ability to reduce symptoms over time. This approach works on first identifying and understanding thoughts and behavioral patterns that contribute to symptoms, and then working to change them. CBT allows patients to have a sense of control, learn useful skills, and manage their anxiety.
Exposure therapy is a specialized form of CBT that helps individuals reduce their fear and anxiety towards a particular object or situation. Just as its name suggests, exposure therapy works by gradually exposing the person to the source of their anxiety. This gradual confrontation helps to desensitize the fear response over time and decreases the person’s anxiety towards the object or situation. This approach works well for treating phobias. To learn more about phobias, see “What Are Phobias?”
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
An ACT approach encourages participants to be present and mindful of their emotions, without judgement. Through mindfulness without judgement, ACT helps individuals with anxiety to accept unwanted experiences, think about them in a different context, and commit to changing their behavior. ACT can be used in cases where patients are actively avoiding, denying, or struggling with their emotions to the extent that it is preventing them from moving on. ACT teaches participants to accept negative emotions and then change their behavior regardless of the way they feel.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT uses techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy and combines them with Eastern meditation practices to deal with change and acceptance. By using both individual and group therapy sessions, DBT teaches mindfulness, interpersonal skills, strategies for dealing with distress, and emotional regulation. To learn more about how mindfulness benefits mental health, see “Mindfulness and Your Mental Health”.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
IPT works to address and manage issues with interpersonal relationships in individuals with anxiety or depression. The main premise of IPT is that personal relationships can be contributed to both anxiety and depression. IPT is usually performed as a short-term therapy that lasts 12-16 one-hour weekly sessions. During these sessions, interpersonal relationships are discussed so that problems can be addressed. The ultimate goal is to help people with anxiety and depression communicate better with others in order to avoid or address potential interpersonal issues.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy all approach anxiety using slightly different approaches. The effectiveness of each approach depends upon the individual. Some approaches may work better than others for certain people. However, the one thing that they all have in common is that the individual needs to actively participate in order to benefit from any of these five approaches. If you are one of the 4 million people with an anxiety disorder, these five approaches can help you to manage your symptoms and be in control of your emotions.
Dr. Miller is trained in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is also trained in Anesthesia and Pain Management. Because of her broad experience, Dr. Miller is uniquely qualified to treat psychological trauma, depression and anxiety that can occur as a result of injury or disability. For more information, schedule a consultation at NJ Family Psychiatry & Therapy.