Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States. They affect 40 million adults, or 18.1% of the population, every year. Yet, only 36.9% of those with anxiety receive treatment. This absence of treatment is often due to perceived stigma or a lack of information about the treatment options for anxiety.
Most people experience some anxiety throughout their lives. It’s a typical stress response and stops you from getting into potentially dangerous situations. But anxiety becomes a disorder when it starts interfering with your life. It may prevent you from taking part in normal daily activities. At this point, it becomes a mental health condition.
There are many types of anxiety disorders. The most common anxiety disorders are Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and phobias.
Each anxiety disorder has a unique set of symptoms. But there are some general signs and characteristics of anxiety disorders.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- Excessive worrying
- Excessive sweating or shaking
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disturbed sleeping pattern
- Panic or anxiety attacks
Anxiety Disorders in the COVID-19 Era
Sheena Miller, Clinical Manager of Integrative Life Center, noted how the COVID-19 pandemic greatly exacerbated anxiety disorders and created new mental health concerns. She said:
“Without the interaction of the societal norms in a person’s day-to-day routines (e.g., workplaces, shopping, community worship, or dining out), the pandemic has exacerbated various anxiety and psychosis-like symptoms, such as mood problems, sleep disorders, hyper-phobia behaviors, and panic-like symptoms. As the current state continues, we will likely continue to see an uptick in the number of new cases we will see over the months and even years to come.”
Treatment Options for Anxiety
The good news is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable. No one treatment works for all anxiety disorders or people, but a combination of treatments tailored to your individual needs can help.
Anxiety treatment uncovers the source of your anxiety and addresses unhealthy thought patterns and emotions through therapy and complementary treatments.
Therapy for Anxiety
Talk therapies and psychological counseling are the most common treatments for anxiety. They involve working with trained mental health professionals to determine why you feel the way you do and what your triggers are. You’ll then learn to reframe your thoughts and behaviors and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Therapies for anxiety include:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. CBT helps you get to the root of self-sabotaging beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors and start to replace them with healthier ones.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Based on CBT, DBT focuses on emotions. It helps you understand, accept, and manage difficult feelings and accept who you are.
- Exposure Therapy. This therapy type focuses on dealing with anxiety-triggering objects or situations. By “facing your fears,” you may gradually become desensitized to them or neutralize them.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This therapy uses strategies of acceptance and mindfulness to help you commit to behavioral change. It involves identifying your values in life and acting in ways that match them.
- Interpersonal Therapy. Interpersonal therapy Addresses interpersonal issues and social functioning and how these are linked to anxiety.
- Social Skills Training. This method is a type of behavioral therapy used to improve social skills in those with social anxiety.
- Psychodynamic Therapy. This therapy analyzes unresolved conflicts from past dysfunctional relationships that may contribute to anxiety.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on altering the emotions, thoughts, and responses resulting from traumatic experiences.
Alternative Treatments for Anxiety
A trained mental health professional guides the therapies above. There are also relaxation techniques and self-care practices that can help you ease the symptoms of anxiety at home. These work best when combined with help from a professional counselor.
Complementary anxiety treatments include:
- Meditation and Mindfulness. Learning to bring your attention back to the present moment and let go of worry and fear.
- Yoga. A gentle form of exercise for reducing stress and anxiety, enhancing mood, and increasing overall well-being.
- Breathwork. Breathing techniques can help you physically and mentally relax and halt many anxiety symptoms. Over time, it can lessen episodes and severity.
- Dietary adjustments. Getting the right amount of magnesium, vitamin B, and calcium in your diet helps boost mood and reduce anxiety.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a new, non-pharmacological treatment for mental health disorders. TMS uses magnetic pulses delivered to the left prefrontal lobe of the brain. These pulses stimulate the neurotransmitters, which are believed to be imbalanced in the brain of those with mood disorders. Stimulating the neurotransmitters retrains the brain and brings your mood back into balance. TMS is most commonly used to treat depression. But it can be used to treat a dual diagnosis of anxiety and depression.
Anxiety Treatment Programs
Anxiety treatment looks different for everyone. The recommended level of treatment depends on the severity of your diagnosis and your personal needs.
Anxiety treatment program options include:
- Hospitalization. Hospitalization only occurs in the most extreme of anxiety cases. Hospital care happens if you are in danger of harming yourself or others. It allows doctors to monitor you closely.
- In-Patient. Residential care lets you live in a safe and monitored environment while undergoing a full-time treatment plan.
- Out-Patient. A part-time treatment plan that allows you to continue living independently while attending regular therapy and counseling sessions.
- Counseling Services. Therapy sessions and help groups for ongoing support. The provider determines your level of treatment based on your symptoms.
Choosing an Anxiety Treatment Provider
Many providers offer anxiety treatment. It’s essential to find the right one for you. So what should you look for when choosing a provider or program to treat anxiety?
When choosing a treatment provider, consider:
- Credentials. Does the provider have the right education, training, and licensing to treat your anxiety disorder?
- Family Involvement. Find out how much involvement your family and loved ones will have in the treatment. Is this something you want and they want?
- Approach. Make sure you understand what exactly their treatment program entails. How long is the treatment plan? Which therapies do they use?
- Fees and Insurance Providers. Understand that quality mental health care may or may not be covered by in-network benefits. Ask questions about the types of therapies your insurance will cover and average length of stay coverage. If in-network insurance won’t cover the care you need, look for a cash-pay provider that can work with out of network benefits.
Anxiety Treatment at Integrative Life Center
At Integrative Life Center, we take a heart-centered approach to treating mental health disorders such as anxiety. As Sheena said:
“Our lives are full of mountain peaks and valley floors. It can seem that the valley is all that is known. However, that is not where a person is meant to live. Addressing the root of the issues is where we can help guide someone out of the valley because the sun is warmer and brighter at the top of the hill.”
Our dedicated and highly-trained professionals deliver various evidence-based therapies and integrative healing approaches in a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
To learn more about how we can help you gain control of your anxiety, contact Integrative Life Center today.