Managing Anxiety

As we’ve learned, anxiety is a mental health condition that alters your brain.  It changes how you think, how you perceive, and how you process information.  For example, if someone without anxiety tells a joke and no one laughs – they move on.  But if someone with anxiety tells a joke and no one laughs, they wonder if they’re being judged, or if they offended someone.  The same exact situation is processed differently.  Anxiety changes the messengers in your brain that tell you how to think and act.  But rest assured, curing anxiety can also change it back.  Anxiety changes your brain like a disease, but none of those changes must be permanent.  In this post, we will talk about how to deal with anxiety.

Ideally, you want to commit to the best treatment available that’s right for you.  Each person reacts to each treatment differently.  What matters is that YOUR symptoms have been examined, and that you receive a treatment plan to combat them.  Also, different disorders may require different treatments.    That said, there are generally some effective ways to control anxiety.  Much of it depends on what you’re looking for in terms of treatment.

One of the most researched therapies for anxiety is without a doubt Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  CBT has received thousands upon thousands of papers on research, and it is based on genuine psychological principles.   CBT has been studied and proven effective in clinical trials.  It does require a willingness to commit, and it doesn’t provide immediate change.  But it does provide you with gradual change that can assist you in controlling your anxiety in the future.  Those that choose therapy-based treatment should consider a therapist who is trained in CBT.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is another therapy which was developed by Albert Ellis in the late 1950’s.  It is a relative of CBT, and it also has been researched extensively with very good results.  The premise is that “It is not the events of life that disturb us, but what we make of them”.  If one can challenge the irrational thoughts while engaging in more positive behavior, then anxiety will be lessened.  It is a simple premise that can create positive results if one is consistent.

Mindfulness techniques have become more and more popular while having positive effects.  Yoga, grounding techniques, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and an awareness of one’s surroundings have proven to be very effective when in reducing the impact of anxiety.  It is a tool that one can use when someone is feeling anxious or panicky in a specific situation that they are unable to leave such as being on an airplane or when public speaking.

Another route you may go is medication, although there may be various side effects.  Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium have the potential for abuse, and they may also create a physical dependency.  Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) are another class of medications that are commonly used to help with anxiety.  SSRI’s have been proven to be effective, although they do have side effects as well.  Anyone considering going the medication route should confer with their doctor or Psychiatrist about which ones would be most effective.

Research has shown that counseling in conjunction with medication management has proven to be very efficacious in treating anxiety disorders.  Whatever treatment, or combination of treatments you decide on is extremely important and should be evaluated over time to assess its effectiveness.  The one thing you cannot do without though, is hope.  There is a way out of the debilitating effects of anxiety disorder, and there is no reason anyone should suffer with any type of mental illness that prevents them from living the life they deserve.