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Finding Treatment: Anxiety Relief

In the United Kingdom alone, over eight million people live with an anxiety disorder at any given time. These disorders can be crippling, leaving people struggling to be productive at work, straining close personal relationships, and leading the people living with these disorders to feel an immeasurable amount of stress in their everyday lives.

Thankfully, several proven methods of anxiety treatment can bring anxiety relief. This includes both traditional, time-tested methods of treating anxiety as well as innovative new technologies and interventions that have quickly proven themselves to be effective tools for managing anxiety disorders.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

The first step in finding anxiety relief is determining the specific type of anxiety disorder that you or your loved one is living with. Anxiety is not a singular condition but a set of symptoms that results from certain situations or experiences. As such, anxiety treatment varies depending on how your anxiety affects you.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is the term used to describe a condition where people experience excessive worry over everyday activities. There’s no single cause of anxiety for people with GAD. Instead, there are a number of causes that all provoke feelings of worry or tension.

Along with the mental strain of persistent worry, many people will experience physical symptoms, including:

  • Sleep problems
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Restlessness

GAD is less common than other types of anxiety disorders, but due to the wide range of experiences which can provoke anxiety, it is often one of the most challenging disorders to live with.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is the diagnosis for people who experience recurring panic attacks. A panic attack is an overwhelming combination of mental and physical distress, which can cause symptoms such as:

  • Hyperventilating
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain

Often, people who experience panic attacks can believe they are experiencing a heart attack.

While a panic attack may be brought on by a specific event, such as facing a frightening situation, they often happen for no clear reason at all.

Specific Phobia

A specific phobia is a fear of a certain object, creature, situation, or activity. To be diagnosed with a specific phobia, the fear must be considered excessive in nature. Many people are frightened of spiders, for example, but a person with a specific phobia of spiders may go to extreme lengths to avoid their fear, often at the cost of their overall well-being.

Social Anxiety Disorder

A person living with a social anxiety disorder experiences extreme anxiety or fearfulness during social situations. You may fear being embarrassed or rejected or have an excessive fear of public speaking.

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a disorder where people fear being in public, open spaces, or spaces that are difficult to leave. In severe cases, agoraphobia may cause people to experience extreme distress when leaving the house, often leading to them not being able to leave the house at all.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

While each anxiety disorder has a unique set of signs and symptoms, the experience of anxiety is often similar. When a person is experiencing anxiety, they may show signs such as:

  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • Body aches or pains
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperventilation
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling a pit in their stomach
  • Nausea

Depending on the specific disorder, these symptoms can arise as a reaction to specific situations or for no clear reason at all.

Anxiety Treatment Methods

While anxiety disorders can cause severe disruption, there are several proven methods for anxiety relief. For many people, anxiety treatment can lead to total remission from an anxiety disorder. But even those who don’t achieve total remission can find recovery in the form of vastly reduced symptoms and less interference with their daily lives.

Traditional Anxiety Treatment

Traditional anxiety treatment includes both medication management with a psychiatrist and psychotherapy with a trained therapist or counsellor. There are decades of evidence proving the effectiveness of these therapies, and they are typically the first-line treatment for people who are experiencing significant disruption as a result of their anxiety diagnosis.

Medication for Anxiety Disorders

Medicating anxiety disorders is one of the most common approaches to helping people deal with their symptoms. Certain medications, such as benzodiazepines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can vastly reduce the intensity and frequency of anxiety.

Determining which medications are right for you involves meeting with a trained and licensed psychiatrist. After providing a thorough assessment and accurate diagnosis, your psychiatrist can recommend specific medications to treat your anxiety symptoms.

Then, your psychiatrist closely follows your progress, seeing whether the medication is working as intended, if the dose needs to be changed, or if a new medication needs to be tried.

While anxiety medication can be incredibly beneficial, the best results are typically seen when medication is combined with psychotherapy. This treats your anxiety disorder from multiple angles, letting you receive a greater benefit.

Psychotherapy for Anxiety Disorders

Therapy for anxiety disorders involves meeting with a licensed counsellor or therapist to discuss your challenges with anxiety, learn techniques and methods to manage your symptoms, and break through any mental barriers that are holding you back from recovery.

While there are multiple styles of therapy for anxiety treatment, some of the most common and effective approaches include:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
  • Exposure therapy
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

Each of these styles of treatment approaches the problem of anxiety with a different lens. CBT can teach you to change your thoughts about certain situations, which can change the way you feel and behave. DBT works in a similar way but also emphasises learning to accept what you cannot change.

Exposure therapy is best suited for specific phobias. It challenges clients to work through their anxieties by gradually facing their fears with the support of their therapists. This type of therapy can begin with an exposure as simple as looking at a photo of the feared item. Clients are empowered to expand their comfort zones on their own terms.

Finally, EMDR uses a specialised technique known as bilateral stimulation to help people work through anxious memories and experiences and to learn that they can be free from their anxious thoughts.

New and Innovative Treatments for Anxiety Relief

While the methods listed above have been effective at helping people with anxiety for years, there are several new and innovative methods for helping people overcome their anxiety disorders.

These methods can work for people who have tried conventional treatment without seeing their desired results, as well as those who are seeking anxiety treatment for the first time.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS)

Deep TMS is a method of treating anxiety at the source with a neuroscience-informed approach. Certain regions of the brain have been associated with certain anxiety disorders — specifically for people experiencing anxious depression. These regions are underactive in people with this type of anxiety when compared to neurotypical controls.

Deep TMS can stimulate these underactive brain regions, bringing them closer to a baseline level of activity. This can vastly reduce the experience of anxiety and help people live happier and healthier lives.

Deep TMS is a very safe procedure that takes only 60-90 minutes per session. Clients receiving Deep TMS meet briefly with their treatment team, who map the client’s brain’s structure, then place a padded helmet with powerful magnets upon their head. These magnets create electrical impulses deep into the brain that can produce startling and fast-acting results.

Lifestyle Psychiatry

Lifestyle psychiatry is a holistic approach to overcoming anxiety disorders. It focuses on lifestyle changes and healthy habits to help people find anxiety relief. Research has shown time and time again that exercise, nutrition, sleep hygiene, and several other activities can help people manage the symptoms of their anxiety disorders. This modality helps guide people towards the practices that will help them find relief.

Lifestyle psychiatry can be used in combination with other anxiety treatments or as a singular approach for people looking for natural methods to overcome their anxiety challenges.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy

Ketamine-assisted therapy is a rapid approach to helping people overcome the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. This style of therapy combines traditional talk therapy approaches with the use of the dissociative drug ketamine in a safe, controlled therapeutic setting.

Ketamine has been used for decades as an anaesthetic. At much lower doses, it can produce a calming, dissociative effect which can help people delve deeper into an individual therapy session.

Your clinical team will meet with you beforehand, discuss your intentions for therapy, explain the full process of ketamine-assisted treatment, and monitor you throughout the entire experience.

Recovery From Anxiety

Living with an anxiety disorder can feel overwhelming. But you can recover, provided you seek out evidence-based treatments for anxiety. To learn more about APN London’s anxiety treatment options, reach out to our team via the live chat function on our website or by filling out our confidential online contact form.

Reference

  • “What Is Anxiety Disorder?” Mental Health UK, 9 May 2023, mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/conditions/anxiety-disorders/what-is-anxiety/.