Treatments for Anxiety


Self-help is important in the management of anxiety. You may think that you don't have much to contribute to your treatment. Actually, you are an important partner in the battle to overcome anxiety. One aspect of your contribution is your effort to recognise the triggers of your anxiety and how they make you feel worse. A personal diary may help. You need to be motivated and keen on overcoming your difficulties. Some simple exercises help you overcome anxiety and to become calm and relaxed and more in control of your feelings. Regular activities and exercise can also help to reduce anxiety and distress. Even if you're not doing much sports, going to the gym or for swimming or even a long walk may help you feel better.


You may have decided to seek the help of a counsellor or your doctor may have suggested such way of treatment. A counsellor is a person who has been trained in helping people with psychological problems through talking. A counsellor may be a clinical psychologist, or someone who has worked in mental health care and has been trained in such form of talk therapy. Part of the help comes from your ability to talk to someone you trust and to express your worries and feelings. This is known to help as expression of emotions can give a sense of relief. Through tactful questions and explanations, the counsellor may help you to understand your problems better and also suggest ways of overcoming these problems.

Giving reassurance, encouragement and hope in itself make people feel better and more in control of their problems. In certain situations and with particular problems, the help of a group of people with similar problems may be suggested. These are known as self-help groups. Some therapist run psychotherapy groups for people with different psychological problems. Either individual or group therapy is a useful professional technique to help people with anxiety symptoms.

The advice of the counsellor may suggest you some practical solutions such as changes in your lifestyle, diet or exercises. The counsellor may suggest a programme of daily activities or relaxation technique using tapes.

Other ways of managing your anxiety which may be suggested by the counsellor or therapist will include thought control techniques and ways of challenging your fixed ideas or repetitive thoughts. Such negative thoughts may be self-defeating and provoking your anxiety. This is known as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and the counsellor would need to be trained in this field of psychotherapy. CBT has been found to be quite useful method in management of anxiety and depression. In CDT, the therapist tries to deal with the thoughts behind your symptoms. Those wrong thoughts were never challenged, nor verified with reality. For example, someone may feel anxious because of the possibility of having a serious illness which runs in the family; although there has never been any confirmation of such illness in himself or his children. We tend to think negatively about the future which makes us worried and anxious about what's going to happen in coming years. Fighting negative thoughts about self, others and the world is an important part of the techniques used in CBT.

Prescription medicines

{{ :-medication.jpeg?200|}}Your doctor may prescribe some medication to help you with your anxiety. The doctor will explain to you why it is used and for how long and what sort of effects are expected. It is important to follow your doctor's advice and take your medicine in the dose recommended. Taking too little may make you feel no different and infrequent use of some medication may also make them less effective. Taking more of your medicine than needed may make you feel worse or you may suffer side-effects. Side effects will increase your anxiety by making you worried about your physical health. If you have any worries or concerns about your medicines you should discuss that with your doctor or with the pharmacist. Also, if you stop taking your tablets you may not get the benefits. If you continue to take some medicines against medical advice you may get hooked or dependent on them. Stopping them may become a difficult task because of withdrawal symptoms.

There are several types of medicines used for generalised anxiety. Medicines which calm down and reduce anxiety are known as anxiolytic, antidepressants, sleeping tablets and others.

Anxiolytic drugs were used in the past extensively such as benzodiazepines, the most famous medicines of them is diazepam which was marketed under the name Valium. Their extensive use has made many people dependent on them and unable to stop them easily. It is now recommended that benzodiazepines should only be used for a short period not exceeding four weeks when anxiety is severe and when it is difficult to manage it in other ways. Benzodiazepines are still useful in management of withdrawal symptoms of alcohol dependence.

People who are anxious may find it difficult to sleep at night and a small dose of a sleeping tablet may actually help to calm them down and provide them with a good night sleep. This may be helpful in cases of mild anxiety symptoms along with counselling is provided. It is still advisable to take sleeping tablet only when needed and not on a continuous basis, as they also form a habit and may make sleep more difficult when they are stopped.

Since the tranquillisers were discovered in their 1960s, it has become clear that there is a risk of people becoming dependent on them. To prevent this, there are only prescribed for short periods of time of 2 to 4 weeks.

If you are always anxious, a sleeping tablet can improve your sleep and may also help to calm down. Your doctor or health care professional will tell you that if you should take these, when you need them and for how long.

Antidepressants are also recommended for treatment of anxiety. The newer antidepressants known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors are quite effective as Anti-anxiety medicines. However these drugs take some time to work and you may need to continue to take them for few weeks before getting the benefit and feeling better. They are not tranquilliser or sedating but work on chemicals in the brain responsible for anxiety. You may need to continue to take them for at least six months after you feel better. These drugs are not known to cause dependence and are not habit forming. So they are not difficult to stop although if you take them for a period longer than six months, there is a possibility of withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, your doctor may need to supervise your stopping of these drugs since the dose need to be adjusted and reduced gradually to avoid feeling anxious again. If you feel anxious during withdrawal of these antidepressants, this is usually very mild and wouldn't last long after body adjust to the new state of chemical balance.

This type of medicines works on some chemicals in your brain that may have caused your generalised anxiety. You may need to stay on these tablets for some time, at least for six months at least after you feel well, to make sure that you continue feeling well. You will not become dependent on these tablets. So you can continue his treatment for as long as your doctor or health care professional tells you to. But remember -- always discuss with your doctor or health care professional how long you should continue with the medicine.

When you are ready to stop taking the medicine, your doctor will probably reduce the dose slowly over a few weeks, to try to prevent you from becoming ill again. This lets your body adjust slowly to being without the medicine. Some people do have physical symptoms when they stop taking their medicines, but this doesn't mean that anxiety is returning. It is just your body readjusting.

Other medicines

There's a group of drugs called beta-blockers which are usually used to treat some medical conditions. They are known to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety such as shakiness, sweating, fast heartbeat among others. They can be used for a short period to help anxiety as that they don't have an effect on the central nervous system. It is assumed that the person will feel less of the physical symptoms of anxiety and thus would be reassured and his anxiety would be reduced consequently. Beta-blockers are also useful in performance anxiety when someone has to face anxiety provoking situation such as an interview or a performance in front of audience or talking in public. Beta-blockers should be avoided in some physical conditions such as bronchial asthma as they may precipitate or trigger an attack of asthma.