Most cases of anxiety disorder can be treated successfully by appropriately trained health and mental
health care professionals. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, research has demonstrated that both “behavioral therapy” and “cognitive therapy” can be highly effective in treating anxiety disorders. Behavioral therapy
involves using techniques to reduce or stop the undesired behavior associated with these disorders.
For example, one approach involves training patients in relaxation and deep breathing techniques to counteract
the agitation and hyperventilation (rapid, shallow breathing) that accompany certain anxiety disorders.
Through cognitive therapy, patients learn to understand how their thoughts contribute to the symptoms of anxiety disorders, and how to change those thought patterns to reduce the likelihood of occurrence and the intensity of reaction.
The patient’s increased cognitive awareness is often combined with behavioral techniques to help the individual gradually confront and tolerate fearful situations in a controlled, safe environment.
Proper and effective medications may have a role in treatment along with psychotherapy. In cases where medications are used, the patient’s care may be managed collaboratively by a therapist and physician.
It is important for patients to realize that there are side effects to any drugs, which must be monitored closely by the prescribing physician.
How can a qualified therapist help someone suffering from an anxiety disorder?
Licensed psychologists are highly qualified to diagnose and treat anxiety disorders. Individuals suffering from these disorders should seek a provider who is competent in cognitive and behavioral therapies.
Experienced mental health professionals have the added benefit of having helped other patients recover from anxiety disorders. Family psychotherapy and group psychotherapy (typically involving individuals who are not related to
one another) offer helpful approaches to treatment for some patients with anxiety disorders. In addition, mental health clinics or other specialized treatment programs dealing with specific disorders such as panic or phobias may also be available nearby.
How long does psychological treatment take?
It is very important to understand that treatments for anxiety disorders do not work instantly. The patient should be comfortable from the outset with the general treatment being proposed and with the therapist with whom he or she is working. The cooperation is crucial, and there must be a strong sense that the patient and therapist are collaborating as a team to remedy the anxiety disorder.
No one plan works well for all patients.Treatment needs to be tailored to the needs of the patient and to the type of disorder, or disorders, from which the individual suffers. A therapist and patient should work together to assess whether a treatment plan seems to be on track.Adjustments to the plan sometimes are necessary, since patients respond differently to treatment.Many patients will begin to improve noticeably within eight to ten sessions, especially those who carefully follow the outlined treatment plan.