For many people, the idea of going to a music festival is fun and exciting. The opportunity to meet up with friends, listen to loud music, and dance in a big group inspires positive, happy emotions. For someone with an anxiety disorder, though, an invitation to the same event can lead to completely different feelings. Persistent worries and racing thoughts about interacting with new people, getting lost in the crowd, or succumbing to peer pressure fuel the negative emotions of anxiety and fear. Often, people with anxiety disorders often try to avoid situations that trigger or worsen their symptoms. Unfortunately, this can exacerbate anxiety in situations when avoidance is not possible.
The good news is that treatment for anxiety disorders is available. Therapy can help reduce the intensity of symptoms by unlocking root causes of anxiety, identifying triggers, and providing healthy coping skills. In a group setting, therapy also offers an opportunity to meet other people with anxiety disorders and practice new skills in real time. When used appropriately, medication can also be an effective way to minimize the symptoms of anxiety.
Treatment for anxiety disorders
Living with panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, constant worry, or a paralyzing phobia can make you feel alone. In reality, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States. According to the American Psychiatric Association, nearly 30 percent of adults experience anxiety at some point in their lives. While millions of people suffer from anxiety, no two people are affected exactly the same way. As such, there is no “one size fits all” treatment. Here’s a look at some of the treatment modalities available for anxiety disorders and the benefits of each.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy, has the most evidence for treating the root cause of anxiety disorders and helping patients find relief from their symptoms. It involves addressing negative thought patterns and helping patients replace them with positive ones. In CBT, patients gain an understanding of their behaviors and develop problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations.
Treatment strategies may include having a patient face his or her fears rather than avoid them, or using role-play with a therapist to prepare for potentially triggering scenarios. Equipped with the skills and tools learned through CBT, people who suffer from anxiety disorders can learn to bypass negative impulses and thoughts and lead a more satisfying life.
Small and large group therapy
Group therapy involves one or more therapists working with several people at the same time. Small group therapy sessions typically consist of three to five participants, while large group therapy involves anywhere from 10 to 30 people. In group therapy, a therapist might encourage free-form dialogue where each member participates as he or she feels comfortable. Other therapists might have a specific plan for each session that involves having members practice skills with others in the group.
Many patients with anxiety find it helpful to meet other people who have anxiety disorders; they can help one another and share their experiences. Group sessions can be particularly beneficial for individuals with social anxiety. They provide a safe space for patients to face their fears through practicing new ways of engaging in social situations and getting real-time feedback on interactions. In group sessions, participants often find it motivating and encouraging to see others work through their anxiety, which then helps them reach their own treatment goals.
Medication will not cure an anxiety disorder. However, when taken at the proper dosage and on the right schedule, it can greatly improve the quality of life for a person with anxiety. Medication is typically used in conjunction with therapy and may be taken short-term or long-term, depending on the severity of a patient’s symptoms. There are four main classes of medications used to treat anxiety disorders: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), Benzodiazepines, and Tricyclic Antidepressants. Because everyone experiences the symptoms of anxiety differently, it can take time and patience to find the right medication. Psychiatrists work with patients to find a solution that alleviates the symptoms of anxiety with minimal side effects.
In addition to CBT, group therapy, and medication, there are several alternative therapies that can help people suffering from anxiety disorders cope with their symptoms. Sculpting and art therapy, horseback riding, and swimming and kayaking all help relieve stress, decrease anxiety, and promote a relaxed state of mind. Each of these therapies can be used individually or in combination to address an individual’s unique needs.
Anxiety disorder treatment at Affinity Treatment Centers in Vista
At Affinity Treatment Centers, we offer custom treatment programs for individuals suffering from anxiety disorders. By using a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, medication management, and alternative therapies, we help patients transform destructive thought patterns and develop the coping skills they need to live healthy, rewarding lives. Learn more about our inpatient anxiety treatment by calling (760) 917-1112.