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Overcoming Your Worries: Anxiety Therapy

In broad lines, anxiety therapy refers to any type of clinical or non-clinical intervention which aims to help people manage and prevent anxiety disorders.

Over the last decades, researchers and healthcare professionals have focused extensively on this condition in hopes of determining the best possible treatment options.

From CBT and exposure therapy to medication and group therapy, today’s mental health professionals possess a vast arsenal of strategies that have been proven to reduce anxiety and help people regain control over their lives.

But before we get into more details on anxiety therapy and which treatment options guarantee the best possible outcomes, let’s take some time to understand.

Overcoming mental illness can be challenging especially if you don’t have someone who understands your problem and can lend a helping hand.

If anxiety is interfering with your personal and professional well-being, perhaps it’s time to see a specialist who can offer expert insights on how to overcome this problem.

Fortunately, help is at your fingertips.

ThriveTalk is an online mental health platform that puts you in touch with a licensed counselor or therapist who specializes in the exact problems you’re dealing with. You can access your therapist at any time, set up appointments easily, discuss your issues in a confidential space, and receive the help you need to overcome anxiety.

Mental health services have never been more accessible!

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a fundamental emotion without which our survival and development as a species would have been impossible. This ‚primal’ emotion helps us spot potential dangers and mobilize resources in the face of adversity.

The frequency and intensity with which we experience this emotion and the regulatory mechanisms that help us cope with anxiety vary from person to person. While some of us are perfectly capable of handling anxiety, others are completely overwhelmed by its unpleasant symptoms.

When it reaches a severe intensity, over a prolonged period, and interferes with our day-to-day business, anxiety becomes a severe disorder with potentially devastating effects on our personal and professional life.

Acute anxiety can manifest as a ‘bad’ feeling (like something terrible is about to happen). It can be either vague and without object or clearly oriented towards a particular event. It can also be accompanied by physiological symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, breathing difficulties, blushing, nausea, vertigo, and insomnia.

In broad lines, anxiety disorders are characterized by overwhelming fear, constant worrying, restlessness, and social isolation. Another central element of anxiety is represented by the chronic, worrying, and repetitive thoughts that can generate a lot of stress, making it difficult for us to attend school/work, enjoy fun activities, and engage in meaningful social interactions.

Depending on the cause and symptoms, there are several types of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Specific phobias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

But regardless of the form of anxiety you might be dealing with, there are plenty of effective strategies to combat this problem.

Stats About Anxiety

Anxiety disorders can affect all age groups. From children and adolescents to adults and seniors, everyone is prone to develop this unpleasant condition.

According to a 2017 report by The World Health Organization, approximately 264 million people are living with anxiety worldwide. [1]

The same report revealed that, regardless of the geographical region, anxiety disorders are more prevalent among women. For example, in the Region of the Americas, nearly 7.7% of all women suffer from anxiety disorders.

But the worst part is that only 36.9% of those who suffer from anxiety receive proper treatment. [2] Furthermore, 25% of all the American children between 13 and 18 years old are diagnosed with a form of anxiety which, if left untreated, can result in poor academic performance and substance abuse.

Anxiety Therapy Options

Since anxiety is among the most common mental health disorders, researchers and healthcare professionals have focused extensively on developing and implementing intervention strategies to help people overcome this condition.

Let’s look at some of the available options:

Traditional

Traditionally, anxiety therapy relies on individual sessions with a licensed mental health professional. If the person is struggling with a severe form of anxiety, healthcare professionals often recommend a mix of individual therapy and medication.

Group

When it comes to mental health, social support represents a crucial factor. It’s comforting to know that there are others who’ve been in your position and are willing to help you overcome anxiety. Support groups where anxiety sufferers can inspire and help each other have proven to be a viable option.

Texting/Chat Therapy

The development of text-messaging software has revolutionized human communication and interpersonal relationships. Online platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram have rendered borders obsolete.

Nowadays, we can communicate instantly with people from all over the world. From a mental health standpoint, this technological advancement has given rise to texting/chat therapy.

Online Therapy

In a nutshell, online therapy merely is ‘traditional’ therapy transferred to the online environment. Whether it takes place via text-messaging or video chat platforms, online therapy can be an excellent option for those who wish to overcome mental illness but don’t have the time to visit a therapist’s office.

Anxiety Therapy Treatments

Regarding treatment options, healthcare professionals can use a wide variety of treatments and techniques through which they can deliver top-quality anxiety therapy.

Let’s look at a few science-backed techniques to overcome anxiety disorders:

CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular options among mental health professionals specialized in anxiety therapy. The reason why CBT is used by counselors and therapists from all over the world that it offers a structured approach to treating anxiety.

Furthermore, researchers have repeatedly shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy is a practical approach for both managing and preventing anxiety disorders.

According to CBT experts, the reason why we end up feeling anxious is that we hold irrational and self-defeating beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world in general. These beliefs can trigger unpleasant emotions (anxiety, fear, stress) and dysfunctional behaviors that can negatively impact our personal, social, and professional life.

By challenging our anxiety-inducing thoughts and acquiring healthier coping strategies, we can keep anxiety in check and prevent it from ruining our life.

Anxiety Therapy

Exposure Therapy

Another popular strategy used by healthcare professionals to treat anxiety disorders is exposure therapy. This step-by-step puts us face to face with our fear and worries.

Exposure-based therapies reflect a variety of behavioral approaches that aim to help individuals expose themselves to anxiety-triggering stimuli. This strategy relies on the fact that anxiety is often fueled by avoidance, and therefore the individual does not have the opportunity to learn that he can tolerate the unpleasant reactions associated with this emotion.

Although this approach may sound a bit intimidating, keep in mind that exposure therapy is a gradual process that takes place under the guidance of a licensed mental health professional.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) aims to change the relationship individuals have with their own thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and bodily sensations.

By cultivating acceptance and present moment awareness, ACT teaches individuals how to reduce avoidance, put aside the worrying future, and live in the ‘here and now.’ As a result, anxiety sufferers learn to clarify their goals, discover their values, and engage in behavioral change.

The principles and strategies promoted by this approach can be successfully used by healthcare professionals specialized in anxiety therapy. Furthermore, experts also recommend ACT for problems such as depression, stress, eating disorders, and many more.

EMDR

Often, anxiety disorders are the result of traumatic events that have reshaped the way we interpret our environment. For example, if we’ve been bitten by a dog when we were kids, chances are we might develop a phobia.

To address the traumatic events that trigger mental illness, Francine Shapiro developed the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).

Using hand tapping and side-to-side eye movements (which induce a state of relaxation) while recalling painful memories and distressing images, individuals can overcome the traumatic events that generated anxiety.

EMDR is especially effective in treating specific phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Medications

As in the case of any other form of mental illness, anxiety can be in part caused by a neurochemical imbalance. For that reason, anxiety therapy can sometimes include the use of psychiatric medication.

Some of the anxiety medication (or anxiolytics) mental health professionals are using these days are:

  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Librium
  • Ativan
  • Klonopin
  • ProSom
  • Dalmane
  • Onfi

When dealing with a severe form of anxiety, a combination of therapy and medication is often the most effective intervention strategy.

Once the individual functions and feels better, the healthcare professional who’s in charge of his treatment plan will help him gradually go off medication, as many of the substances used can have unpleasant side effects. [3]

How to Find a Therapist

When it comes to anxiety therapy, finding a therapist is relatively easy.

Although word-of-mouth recommendation is still the most popular way to find a therapist, there are other ways to get in touch with a professional who can help you manage anxiety.

Nowadays, most healthcare professionals have web pages where you can contact them and find out more about their background and experience.

What Should I be Looking for in an LMHP?

Thanks to strict guidelines set by organizations such as The American Psychological Association (APA), mental health professionals have to go through an extensive accreditation process to obtain their license.

In broad lines, a licensed mental health professional is required to have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Psychology, Social Work, or any other related field. Aside from that, LMHP’s receive extensive training in one or several therapeutic approaches.

The purpose of this extensive accreditation process is to ensure top-quality mental health services. And since the Internet is bristling with self-proclaimed experts, getting more info about your therapist’s background and certification should be a priority.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

Before you set up an appointment, make sure the therapist you wish to see is in fact specialized in anxiety therapy.

Here are some questions that will help you gain valuable info about a potential therapist:

  • What’s your academic background?
  • How long have you been working in the mental health field?
  • Have you ever worked with clients who were dealing with anxiety?
  • Can you tell me a bit about your approach to anxiety?
  • Can you prescribe medication?

Find a Therapist Now

Here at ThriveTalk, we’re all about providing honest therapy for everybody. We understand therapy can feel like a big commitment and that it can feel scary or shameful. That’s why we’ve created this blog, to talk about tough subjects and demystify the world of mental health and therapy. And that’s also why we try to be straightforward and upfront in everything that we do. We have our pricing here. You can meet some of our therapists here.

Through all of this, our job is to help you in whatever way we can, whether that’s answering your questions or helping walk you through the hard times in your life. So if you think you might need therapy, just have a few simple questions, or just plain don’t know what to do, get in touch with us here, and we’ll do everything we can to help you make the best choice for your life. We’re here to help you take care of you.

Final Thoughts on Anxiety Therapy

All and all, anxiety therapy is a collection of techniques and explanatory models which aim to help individuals manage and prevent one of the most common mental health issues – anxiety disorders.

Whether it’s through individual, group, or online therapy, healthcare professionals can quickly and effectively provide the support you need to overcome mental illness.

From cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication to EMDR and ACT, today’s counselors and therapists possess an impressive collection of intervention strategies that have been scientifically proven to ease anxiety.

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References

World Health Organization, “Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders,” World Health Organization, Geneva, 2017.

n.a., “Facts & Statistics,” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, [Online]. Available: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.

n.a., “Getting Help for Anxiety,” GoodTherapy, 13 3 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/anxiety/getting-help-for-anxiety.

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