Psychological treatments (also known as talking therapies) can help you change your thinking patterns, so you are able to keep your anxiety under control and reduce irrational worries.
There are several types of effective psychological treatments for anxiety, as well as different delivery options. Some people prefer to work one on one with a professional, while others get more out of a group environment. A growing number of online programs of Anxiety Specialist Near Me, or e-therapies, are also available.
Anxiety disorders can severely impair a person’s ability to function at work, school, and in social situations and can interfere with a person’s relationships.
Everyone worries or feels nervous from time to time. Anxiety is a normal human reaction to stressful situations. But for people with anxiety disorders, those fears and worries are not temporary. Their anxiety persists and can even get worse over time.
Anxiety disorders can severely impair a person’s ability to function at work, school, and in social situations. Anxiety can also interfere with a person’s relationships with family members and friends. Fortunately, though, there are effective treatments for anxiety.
In some cases, medications have a role in treating anxiety disorders. Yet research shows behavioral treatment, alone or in combination with medication, is a highly effective treatment for most people with an anxiety disorder.
There are several major types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent worry or anxious feelings. People with this disorder worry about several concerns, such as health problems or finances, and may have a general sense that something bad is going to happen. Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, and generally feeling on edge.
- Panic disorder is marked by recurrent panic attacks that include symptoms such as sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, or a feeling of choking; a pounding heart or rapid heart rate; and feelings of dread. Such attacks often happen suddenly, without warning. People who experience panic attacks often become fearful about when the next episode will occur, which can cause them to change or restrict their normal activities.
- Phobias are intense fears about certain objects (spiders or snakes, for instance) or situations (such as flying in airplanes) that are distressing or intrusive.
- Social anxiety disorder is also known as social phobia. People with this disorder are fearful of social situations in which they might feel embarrassed or judged. They typically feel nervous spending time in social settings, feel self-conscious in front of others, and worry about being rejected by or offending others. Other common symptoms include having a hard time making friends, avoiding social situations, worrying for days before a social event, and feeling shaky, sweaty, or nauseous when spending time in a social setting.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by persistent, uncontrollable feelings and thoughts (obsessions) and routines or rituals (compulsions). Some common examples include compulsive hand washing in response to a fear of germs, or repeatedly checking work for errors.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)can develop after a severe physical or emotional trauma such as a natural disaster, serious accident, or crime. Symptoms include flashbacks of the trauma, nightmares, and frightening thoughts that interfere with a person’s everyday routine for months or years after the traumatic experience.
Seeing a psychologist about anxiety disorders
Though many types of anxiety disorders exist, research suggests that most are driven by similar underlying processes. People with anxiety disorders tend to become easily overwhelmed by their emotions, and they tend to have particularly negative reactions to those unpleasant feelings and situations.
Often, people try to cope with those negative reactions by avoiding situations or experiences that make them anxious. Unfortunately, avoidance can backfire and feed the anxiety.
Psychotherapy for anxiety disorders: What to expect.
Psychotherapy is a collaborative process, where psychologists and patients work together to identify specific concerns and develop concrete skills and techniques for coping with anxiety. Patients can expect to practice their new skills outside of sessions to manage anxiety in situations that might make them uncomfortable. However, psychologists will not push patients into such scenarios until they are sure they have the skills they need to effectively confront their fears.
Psychologists sometimes use other approaches to treat anxiety disorders in addition to CBT. Group psychotherapy, which typically involves several people who all have anxiety disorders, can be effective for both treating anxiety and providing patients with support.
Family psychotherapy can help family members understand their loved one’s anxiety and help them learn ways to interact that do not reinforce anxious habits. Family therapy can be particularly helpful for children and adolescents suffering from anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders are very treatable. Most patients who suffer from anxiety can reduce or eliminate symptoms after several (or fewer) months of psychotherapy, and many patients notice improvement after just a few sessions.