Anxiety Treatment Options
There are a number of anxiety treatments to choose from. The ones that are best for you will be determined by how severe your anxiety is and your personal preferences. Some people believe that self-help or therapy is enough to manage their anxiety, while others want medication in conjunction with other therapy methods.
Talk therapy is helpful for people with anxiety. Effective therapy will focus on your specific anxieties and worries and be tailored to your needs and preferences.
- Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps people change negative thinking and behavior patterns. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected. So, if we can change our thoughts, we can change our feelings and behaviors. It has been shown to treat physical and psychological symptoms and behaviors characteristic of anxiety. CBT is evidence – based and the gold standard psychotherapy.
- Exposure therapy is a process to reduce fear and anxiety. A person is gradually exposed to a fearful situation and learns ways to confront their fears and become less sensitive over time.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy. This is a form of CBT that is action oriented using strategies like mindfulness and goal setting to reduce your anxiety. You will learn how to stop avoiding and denying your emotions and accept that these feelings are correct in certain situations. Then you can you learn to accept adversities and commit to making the changes necessary to improve your life.
- Individual psychotherapy is a short-term supportive therapy that addresses interpersonal issues that may underlie depression and anxiety.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that can help you heal from past traumas that underlie your anxiety. EMDR involves eye movements, tapping and or tones to access a natural healing process that helps unlock distressing memories and reduce distress.
Medication is not a cure, but it can help to ease symptoms. Depression and anxiety often come together so Dr. Poulakos may recommend an antidepressant and an antianxiety medication.
- Antidepressants are often the first line treatment along with psychotherapy for depression and are also helpful to control mood and stress. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely used to treat and prevent chronic anxiety. SSRIs include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. Remeron is a different class of drugs to treat anxiety. The most prescribed SSRIs may be used alone or in combination with therapy. Most people experience relief and improvements in quality of life with care.
It can take several weeks to see if an antidepressant will work and has manageable side effects. You may need to try several different medications to find relief. Children, teens, and young adults may experience suicidal thoughts in the first few weeks taking an antidepressant and will need to be closely watched.
- Anti-Anxiety medications are helpful to ease symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks and extreme fear and worry. Acute anxiety is often treated with anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines work faster than antidepressants in relieving symptoms. Xanax, Klonopin, Librium, Valium, and Ativan are some of the drugs in this class. These drugs may cause unwelcome side effects and can be addicting, so they may be prescribed for short-term use to get you symptoms under control. Buspar is another option, and it also has side effects. Finally, beta blockers used to treat high blood pressure can help physical symptoms like a pounding heart, shaking, and trembling. They are also for short-term use.
- Biofeedback can be helpful to teach you how to reach a more relaxed state when you feel tension and anxiety.
- Self-care is important. Getting healthy sleep, eating a healthy diet, stress management and activities like exercise, mediation, relation tecniques and yoga can help. People with anxiety often breathe shallowly. Learning deep breathing exercise can help you release tension and gain insight into what you are feeling.
- Support groups can be beneficial to share your problems with other suffering with anxiety.
Dr. Poulakos offers evidence-based, individualized treatment using medication and psychotherapy, and state-of-the-art treatments. When people are directly involved in creating their own treatment plan including wellness goals and support services, they experience improved outcomes. He is a caring and compassionate doctor who will work with you to find solutions that meet your unique needs. Contact him at his New York City office to schedule an appointment to receive the correct diagnosis and all your treatment options.
At a Glance
Dr. Paul Poulakos
- Attending Psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center
- Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Past Clinical Assistant Professor of NYU Langone Medical Center
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