How Therapy Can Help in Managing and Treating Anxiety
Are you someone who deals with stressful thoughts regularly? Do you often find yourself in a state of panic? Does having these incapacitating thoughts affect your daily life?
Whether you are dealing with unrelenting thought patterns, phobias, compulsions, and obsessions, or panic attacks, it is important to know that you are not alone. In fact, anxiety disorders affect a surprisingly large percentage of our population.
Fortunately, there is a treatment that can help many anxiety conditions. Anxiety and mood disorder treatment involves working with a mental health professional to address the underlying causes of your symptoms. One of the most effective treatments for anxiety is psychotherapy.
It is a type of clinical therapy that addresses the individual’s deep-rooted fears and worries. Also, with the help of psychotherapy, you learn positive coping mechanisms, relaxing techniques, as well as problem-solving abilities.
What Types of Therapy Can Help in The Treatment of Anxiety?
Many anxiety patients take anti-anxiety medication to treat the physical symptoms of their anxiety. While it can provide momentary relief and relaxation, it is not a permanent cure for the condition. The great thing about psychotherapy is that it addresses the underlying causes as to why you are experiencing these debilitating symptoms.
Thus, it is a self-reflective approach that allows the person to become more aware of their thoughts and emotions. Also, over time they learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with their recurring anxiety symptoms. That helps them in the future when their symptoms exacerbate.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is one of the most effective and commonly used therapy for anxiety conditions. According to research, CBT is effective for the treatment of social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and many other similar conditions.
CBT works by challenging our mental distortions and negative thought patterns about ourselves and the world. Cognitive treatment involves two critical components:
- Cognitive Therapy – It focuses on how cognitions or negative thoughts lead to anxiety
- Behavior Therapy – It examines your behavioral patterns and reactions in certain situations that can trigger anxiety.
The main principle of CBT is that it is our thoughts, and not the external events, that define how we feel and act. In other words, it is your perception of a certain situation, and not the situation itself, that affects how you feel.
In addition, CBT might involve goal-setting, homework assignments, structured therapy sessions, and group therapy. The premise is to identify negative beliefs and thoughts, challenge them, and find healthy alternatives and coping mechanisms.
Anxiety is never a pleasant feeling which is why it makes sense to avoid it at all costs. A common coping habit of people with anxiety is to steer clear of scenarios that might trigger their anxious thoughts or behaviors.
For instance, if someone has an incapacitating phobia of heights, they might drive an hour extra every day to dodge crossing a high bridge. Also, it could be that the idea of public speaking makes you feel sick in the stomach. It could also make you skip important events in your life.
The problem with this avoidant approach is that it often feeds your fears, making them worsen over time. Exposure therapy works by gradually exposing you to objects or situations that you perceive as fearful.
With such recurrent exposure, the individual becomes more in control of their fearful thoughts. Also, it helps the person manage their anxiety symptoms better with time. There are two ways a therapist might conduct exposure therapy.
They might ask the client to visualize a fearful scenario, or the client might confront their fears in real-life situations over time. Sometimes, therapists use exposure therapy in combination with CBT depending on the client’s needs.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT is similar to cognitive treatment, but it focuses on coming to terms with negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. By accepting their problematic thought patterns and actions, the clients can create a long-term treatment plan with their therapist.
In addition, DBT helps individuals learn cognitive and emotional skills. Also, they learn how to apply these skills to their routine lives.
In general, DBT stresses managing challenging emotions like incapacitating nervousness and excessive fear. Furthermore, it can help individuals with anxiety disorders get a better grasp over their emotions and develop the ability for emotional regulation.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy, or IPT, is an interim treatment that focuses on interpersonal conflicts in adults and adolescents. The therapist uses the initial sessions to collect some information about the client’s mental health issues.
Knowing about their specific interpersonal struggles helps the therapist in identifying negative thought patterns like aggression, avoidance, or social isolation. Eventually, interpersonal therapy helps the individual better understand their psychological issues. Also, it helps them practice positive social interactions over time.
Complementary Anxiety Therapies
Complementary therapies can also improve your mental health and help you manage your stress levels. Some of these complementary therapies for anxiety include:
- Exercise – It serves as a natural anxiety buster and stress reliever. According to research, around 30 minutes of exercise every day can improve anxiety symptoms. For optimal effects, try to invest an hour into aerobic exercises on most days.
- Relaxation Techniques and Mindfulness – Progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and mindful meditation can lower anxiety and do wonders for your mental health.
- Healthy Lifestyle Changes – Getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, investing time in feel-good activities, and avoiding nicotine and caffeine can all help in anxiety management.
Anxiety symptoms can be incredibly overwhelming. The intense nervousness and incapacitating fears can interfere with your everyday activities. If you have been struggling with anxiety for a long time, it is important to find professional mental health assistance.
Anxiety doesn’t have any quick fix. Thus, it is important that you are patient with your healing process. The key here is that you stick with your treatment and put in the work with your therapist. Don’t get discouraged by the slow pace of your recovery. Remember that healing from a mental health condition is a gradual process, but it is worth it in the long run.