what is the best treatment for anxiety

What is the Best Treatment for Anxiety?

Everyone feels anxious at some point in their life – before a big job interview or a first date, for example. But feeling temporarily anxious is different from suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are more than just nerves – they can be intense, excessive periods of worry and fear that persist through a person’s normal daily routine. And they can cause short bursts of terror and anxiety that come on suddenly, known as panic attacks.

Anxiety is a mental illness, but it can also cause physical symptoms like a racing heart, chest pain, and shortness of breath. 

In this article, we’re exploring the types of anxiety disorders as well as one of the most common questions we hear from people – what is the best treatment for anxiety?

Types of Anxiety Disorder

The ordinary anxiety that most people experience from time to time is different from clinical anxiety. And even within clinical anxiety, there are a couple of different types of anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder, which is essentially persistent and intense anxiety about everyday routines and events, is very common, but it’s not the only kind of anxiety. So if you don’t feel as if your anxiety fits the description of generalized anxiety disorder, you may still be suffering from an anxiety disorder. 

Some of the different anxiety disorders include:

  • Social anxiety disorder – you might have also heard it called social phobia. It’s a type of anxiety that occurs in social situations, making you fear normal social situations, like meeting unfamiliar people, attending a party, or eating in front of other people. 
  • Panic disorder – this is when you experience repeated, sudden anxiety attacks. Panic attacks can happen suddenly and unexpectedly without any obvious rhyme or reason, which can make them very disruptive to your life.
  • Substance abuse anxiety disorder – this is a disorder that can occur when people are either abusing drugs, taking certain medications, withdrawing from drugs, or being exposed to toxic substances. People experiencing this type of anxiety may need to treat the underlying drug issue in conjunction with the anxiety.
  • Phobias – phobias are just a type of anxiety that occurs in response to a specific circumstance. Arachnophobia, for example, is intense anxiety when in a situation where you’re exposed to spiders.
  • Health anxiety – this particular anxiety may be especially relevant during a pandemic, because for many, the real danger may cause people to cross the line between healthy concern about their health to a serious and debilitating fear of a specific illness or illness in general.

Different anxiety disorders may require different types of treatment. 

What Causes Anxiety?

It’s unclear exactly what causes anxiety to happen. There are inherited traits that can factor in, life events can be a trigger, and in some cases, there are medical causes that can create an anxiety disorder. You might be surprised to learn that diabetes, heart problems, thyroid problems, and respiratory problems are some of the medical conditions that can be linked to anxiety.

There are also risk factors for anxiety that you might need to be aware of. Some personality types are more likely to develop anxiety than others. Trauma can be a risk factor for anxiety, whether it’s childhood trauma or trauma experienced as an adult. Serious physical health complications or other mental health disorders can also contribute to anxiety. 

Life stresses can also be the impetus for an anxiety disorder. It can be a big stress, such as a death or divorce, or a series of smaller stresses, like constant financial worries that build up over time. Drug and alcohol use can also induce anxiety disorders. And finally, if you have a blood relative that’s had an anxiety disorder, that’s a strong risk factor that you might develop one too. 

What is the Best Treatment for Anxiety?

Some mental health issues are best addressed with therapy, while others are best addressed with medication. And some call for a combination of the two. Anxiety is a condition that often calls for both therapy and medication. 

Like other mental health disorders, treating anxiety is very personal, and can really come down to what works best for the individual. There may not be one right medication, dosage, therapy schedule, or combination of the two that works best for most people, and it’s very possible that you and your medical team will need to make adjustments to your medication and therapy regime until you find the one that’s most comfortable for you and meets your needs best. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. It’s a shorter-term form of psychotherapy that’s used to teach you new ways to navigate anxiety triggers and overcome avoidance issues so that you can go back to your usual way of life. In some cases, other forms of therapy may be more used. Exposure therapy and dialectical behavior therapy are both forms of CBT but may be used for different forms of anxiety. Psychoanalytic therapy or interpersonal therapy may also be useful for some people. 

When it comes to medication, many people think of SSRIs as drugs for depression. And they are, but now they are often used for anxiety as well. Another anti-anxiety med that’s often used is a drug called buspirone. It’s thought to decrease the amount of serotonin in your brain. A doctor may also describe benzodiazepines for anxiety. These are drugs like Valium or Xanax. While they can be useful, these drugs are generally only used for immediate relief of acute symptoms. They can be habit-forming, so they’re not appropriate for long-term use. 

It’s important to note that there are also home and lifestyle remedies that you may want to try, or that may be recommended by your doctor. Getting enough sleep, eating healthily, and keeping physically active may all help ease anxiety symptoms. So can giving up substances like alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and white sugar. Some people also find relief with stress management and relaxation habits, like yoga, mindfulness meditation, or deep breathing exercises. 

Anxiety can seriously upset your life, but getting the right treatment for it can vastly improve your life and help you to develop coping skills. The Heights can help you to learn more about living with and managing your anxiety.