Types of Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports results of a survey that showed between January 20, 2021, and February 1, 2021, two out of every five adults experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression in the previous week. One in four claimed they needed counseling but did not receive it.

It’s more surprising that adults are not receiving well-deserved help when they need it than that adults experience anxiety and depression so often. America has experienced a pandemic, political changes, and personal issues. Anxiety is to be expected.

However, it is surprising that the numerous resources to treat anxiety are not being utilized. Barriers may include stigma, finances, or feeling like they should be strong enough to overcome anxiety issues without help. Another obstacle may be that people aren’t aware of all the types of therapy for anxiety disorders.

Below is a detailed description of therapies available for you, or anyone, experiencing anxiety. But first, it’s essential to understand the different types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety Disorders

There are multiples types of anxiety disorders listed in the DSM V, the manual used by a mental health professional to diagnose someone who is struggling with anxiety.

Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety, and separation anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder is defined as consistent worry about many things. Someone with GAD may have a negative outlook and expect everything to have a bad outcome. They always think of the worst-case scenario first.

Phobias are distinguished by types of phobias, like fear of snakes, planes, heights, etc. Anything, person, or place can develop into a phobia. There is even a fear of leaving a “safe space” called agoraphobia. Social anxiety is characterized by extreme, irrational fear experienced when interacting socially with others.

Many fear being embarrassed, humiliated, or judged. A typical example is a fear of giving public speeches. Separation anxiety occurs when you become excessively anxious when being separated from another person. Children often feel this way when being separated from their parents.

Post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorders are two more anxiety-related mental illnesses.

For each type of anxiety disorder, there are specific therapies beneficial in treatment. Working with a licensed mental health professional, you can overcome your symptoms and go on to lead a healthy, happy life.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety treatment starts with a comprehensive assessment completed by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed therapist.

Based on the results, a treatment plan will be created and will include anxiety disorder therapies. Examples of successful treatments are given below.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that addresses thought patterns that provoke anxiety. The theory is that what you believe influences how you behave. Thoughts can often be unrealistic and irrational, leading to irrational actions or reactions. Working with a mental health professional, you learn to change the way you think so that you can feel less anxious.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, is an evidence-based therapy successful with people who have experienced emotional traumas or adverse life experiences. EMDR must only be administered by a certified therapist who will help you relive traumatic experiences in brief doses while providing a distraction, like directing eye movements.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that works to desensitize you to the person, place, or thing that makes you feel fearful. It is a slow process in which the therapist introduces the thing that causes anxiety during therapy.

Together, you work through the thoughts and feelings causing anxiety. You also implement relaxation techniques. Over time, you feel less and less anxious.

Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT) is another therapy used alongside CBT. DBT is based on the theory that two opposing things, or thoughts, can exist simultaneously. It helps you accept yourself just the way you are but also encourages you to make positive changes.

For example, having an anxiety disorder does not make you a bad person or something is majorly wrong. At the same time, it’s important to take steps to ease the symptoms of anxiety.

Techniques like mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation are taught in DBT.

Interpersonal Therapy

Sometimes, the personal relationships you have can cause anxiety. Or, you may get anxious when in social situations. Interpersonal therapy helps address emotions surrounding your anxiety and teaches you how to change them to improve personal relationships. It can also teach you how to function better within social scenarios.

Emotion-Focused Therapy

Anxiety can appear rapidly and without warning, like panic attacks. Within seconds you can feel out of control. You can’t stop the fearful thoughts about dying, uncontrollable emotions, and biological responses contributing to anxiety disorders.

Emotion-focused therapy teaches you how to recognize your emotions and deal with them immediately rather than suppressing them. It teaches you how to reason and regulate emotions as they happen, preventing them from getting out of control.

Medication Therapy

The use of anti-anxiety medications has been successful in helping many people overcome anxiety disorders. Medication is not used as a solo treatment. Instead, it is combined with any of the above therapies.

Anti-anxiety medication is prescribed by a psychiatrist. Medication helps to regulate chemicals in the brain that may be imbalanced and part of why you feel anxious in the first place. With the right medication, you begin to think more clearly and have an easier time learning the techniques taught in therapy to overcome anxiety.

Getting Help for Anxiety Disorders

If you are struggling with anxiety disorders of any kind, help is available, and you can start today by reaching out to your local mental health center. A mental health professional can explain the factors that may be causing your anxiety and the many treatment options available.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember, you are one of many struggling with anxiety. Follow the lead of those who received support and overcame anxiety disorders. You can do it.