Many people with an anxiety disorder can never be truly “cured.” Anxiety disorder treatment generally involves managing symptoms to improve the patient’s quality of life. The primary approaches to treatment are medication and psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Some people find alternative approaches helpful for alleviating anxiety disorder symptoms. The important thing is to work with a doctor who can help devise an individual treatment plan and monitor the progress of that treatment.
Certain medications can be highly effective in treating anxiety disorders. The most common types of medication prescribed for anxiety disorders are antidepressants. Antidepressants have proven helpful in the treatment of many different anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Social phobia/social anxiety disorder.
Because people with panic disorder are prone to panic attacks, these patients may also be prescribed anti-anxiety drugs that they can take to help calm their physical symptoms when an attack strikes.
Psychotherapy is another common approach for the treatment of anxiety disorders. The type of psychotherapy most often employed is called “behavioral cognitive therapy.” This type of therapy focuses on the patient’s thought patterns and reactions to anxiety. It is used for treating many different anxiety disorders. In some cases, it may be combined with other forms of therapy, depending on the needs of the patient.
For treatment of specific phobias, a technique called “exposure based therapy” is often helpful. During this kind of therapy, patients must confront the target of their phobia in order to increase their tolerance.
In addition to medication and psychotherapy, some alternative treatments for anxiety disorders may help patients. Hypnotherapy is helpful for some, while others have benefited from relaxation techniques. Getting regular exercises and eating a healthy diet may also help patients manage anxiety.
Treatments for Children and Teens with Anxiety Disorders
Even for children and adolescents, the typical treatment plan for anxiety disorders includes medications, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. One key difference between treating a child with an anxiety disorder and an adult with an anxiety disorder is that the parents need to be actively involved in the treatment of a child. Involvement often includes monitoring and reporting symptoms to the physician, dispensing medications and attending therapy sessions (both with the child and without). Treatment success rates increase for children with anxiety disorders when the parents participate in the recovery.
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Dryden-Edwards, R. (2008). Separation anxiety disorder. Retrieved July 26, 2010, from http://www.medicinenet.com/separation_anxiety/article.htm.
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Generalized anxiety disorder. Retrieved July 26, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/generalized-anxiety-disorder/DS00502.