Anxiety Disorders: The Role of Psychotherapy in Effective Treatment

Anxiety and stress are both normal human emotions, and it’s likely everyone will experience them at some point in their lifetime. When anxiety becomes a norm in your life for a prolonged period of time, however, the culprit may be an anxiety disorder.

An anxiety disorder is present when someone suffers from severe anxiety in such a way that it inhibits their ability to function in life at a standard level. Fortunately, anxiety disorders can be effectively treated with a tool like psychotherapy.

What are the major kinds of anxiety disorders?

An anxiety disorder can fall into one of several categories depending on the specific situation present with that anxiety disorder. The following are some of the major categories:

  • Generalized Anxiety – Those with generalized anxiety are similar to those with normal anxiety. They fret about the same things as everyone else, but in such a way that it makes living a normal life difficult. These individuals can often be extremely paranoid, assuming that their next misfortune is constantly right around the corner.
  • Panic Disorder – A panic disorder is more sporadic in nature. Those with this type of anxiety disorder will experience moments of severe dread and hopelessness that can develop into true fears, restricting their ability to function.
  • Phobias – Having a phobia can be considered an anxiety disorder. This kind of anxiety is centered around one specific object or situation, such as snakes or being in tight spaces.
  • OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is categorized as an anxiety disorder. OCD can manifest in numerous ways, but the symptoms almost always have to do with a specific order or routine. Those with this disorder must maintain that order via rituals in order to keep the anxiety at bay.

Most anxiety disorders display similar symptoms – shortness of breath, dizziness, panic, fast heart palpitations and tremors. These disorders can be obtained from trauma or possibly via genetics.

Why seek treatment?

Any major illness that impacts a person’s life should be treated in an effective way as soon as possible. Though the period of recovery and illness management can be long and arduous, the sooner you get started, the sooner you can start getting your life back.

Anxiety disorders also often get worse if left untreated. Someone with only a slight OCD tic can become more and more obsessive-compulsive if times goes on, for example, if they go untreated.

What methods of treatment exist for anxiety disorders?

Calming Stones
“The most effective methods of treating anxiety disorders are behavioral and cognitive therapy.”
Many effective methods of treatment exist for anxiety disorders, one being psychotherapy. Forms of psychotherapy include interpersonal, psycho-dynamic and cognitive-behavioral. These forms of therapy are typically about talking out problems and processing thoughts and feelings verbally.

Research shows that perhaps the most effective methods of treating anxiety disorders are behavioral and cognitive therapy. Behavioral therapy’s practice of keeping undesired behaviors in check, combined with cognitive therapy’s methods of understand the why and how of the problem can be extremely effective in helping put a stop to anxiety.

Medications can also play a role in treating anxiety. Many therapists recommend a mixture of “talk therapy” and medications for the best results possible.

How long does this treatment take?

Just like any form of therapy treatment, the results won’t appear overnight. Therapy is about understanding yourself and acquiring the tools for change, not “getting better” in a single day. If you go into a therapy session thinking you’ll be cured afterward, don’t – this mindset can set back your treatment.

Sometimes the struggle to cope and deal with anxiety lasts a lifetime. You’ll have to find a treatment plan that works right for you, first, and this task can take a long time. Once that plan is secured, the goal is to manage anxiety – it is sometimes unlikely you’ll ever be completely rid of it.

If you want a more concrete number, most patients with anxiety disorders find they have noticeably improved in the span of 8 to 10 sessions. As you adapt to the plan and improve, some adjustments may occur. This can also be a process where sometimes a patient can take steps backward.

Long-term recovery is something you’ll be looking forward to, but the wait will be well worth it when you have even a little bit more control of your life back.

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