Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder. Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses characterized by feelings of fear, worry, and unease that are strong enough to interfere with daily activities. These feelings are typically persistent, excessive, and have no obvious cause. Some common forms of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. Symptoms of anxiety can include physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, and a rapid heartbeat, as well as emotional symptoms like constant worry and avoidance of certain situations.
Anxiety treatment should always start with a therapist experienced in treating this issue. While medication is sometimes prescribed, it does come with pros and cons.
Pros of anxiety medication:
- Quick relief of symptoms: Anxiety medications can provide fast relief from symptoms like worry, nervousness, and panic attacks.
- Improved quality of life: Anxiety medications can help improve a person’s overall quality of life by reducing symptoms and allowing them to participate in daily activities with less fear and discomfort.
- Complementary to therapy: Anxiety medications can be used in conjunction with therapy and other forms of treatment, making it easier for people to manage their anxiety.
Cons of anxiety medication:
- Potential side effects: Some anxiety medications can cause side effects like drowsiness, dry mouth, and headaches.
- Dependence: Long-term use of some anxiety medications can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms if the person stops taking them abruptly.
- Interaction with other medications: Anxiety medications can interact with other medications, leading to potentially dangerous side effects.
- Masking underlying issues: By reducing symptoms, anxiety medications can also mask underlying emotional or psychological issues that need to be addressed through therapy or other forms of treatment.
Treating anxiety with therapy.
There are several types of therapy that are effective in treating anxiety disorders, including:
- Root Cause Therapy: Root cause therapy is a term that is sometimes used to describe a type of therapy that seeks to address the underlying cause of a person’s symptoms or problems. The goal of root cause therapy is to identify and address the root causes of symptoms rather than simply treating the symptoms themselves. This type of therapy may involve exploring a person’s childhood experiences, relationships, and life events to understand how they have shaped their current thoughts, behaviours, and emotions.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps people recognize and change negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to their anxiety.
- Exposure therapy: This type of therapy involves gradually exposing the person to the source of their fear or anxiety in a controlled environment, with the goal of reducing their fear over time.
- Mindfulness-based therapy: Mindfulness-based therapy helps people focus on the present moment and develop awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. This type of therapy can help reduce symptoms of anxiety by teaching people to respond to their thoughts in a less reactive way.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of therapy that combines CBT with mindfulness techniques and is often used to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder and those who experience intense emotions.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): ACT is a form of therapy that helps people accept their thoughts and feelings, and encourages them to focus on their values and goals. This can help reduce anxiety by reducing the need to control or suppress thoughts and emotions.
It’s important to note that different therapies may be more or less effective for different individuals, and it may take time to find the right fit. In some cases, a combination of medication and therapy may be the most effective approach.