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Overcoming Anxiety: What Works?

Young woman with big smile leans on granite tableThere are two well-researched methods for treating anxiety: psychotherapy and medications. Many people will also supplement these clinical approaches with personalized wellness activities.

The result?

It takes time, but the evidence shows that these approaches can lead to a healthier, happier life: with less emotional white-knuckling and a more even outlook in the day-to-day.

Let’s take a closer look at the most effective treatments for anxiety:

  1. Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is the premier approach for addressing anxiety. Numerous studies have shown its effectiveness. CBT works by observing and later changing unhealthy thinking and behavior patterns. A trained therapist is an integral part of this method. They will share mental skills and techniques, guide the process of observation, and support the slow-and-steady journey of making positive changes. The focus in CBT is on learning psychological strategies to manage and neutralize anxiety. While it can take time to show effect, typically 3-4 months, it is extremely sustainable in the long term. CBT develops techniques and strengths that can be used for a lifetime.
  2. Medications. Anti-anxiety medications, called anxiolytics, and anti-depressants are the most common prescriptions to treat anxiety. They are typically used in conjunction with psychotherapy, like CBT, to provide an encompassing path to recovery. Up to 50% of people who use medication to treat anxiety will experience some symptom relief – although this level of relief is moderate, usually about 20-40% improvement. In conjunction with therapy, the effectiveness of prescribed medication can be much more significant.
  3. Holistic wellness. Multiple studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as CBT and medications in reducing the symptoms of anxiety. But here’s the rub: it can be hard to overcome anxiety enough to begin regular exercise, at least in the beginning. For this reason, exercise is a stellar accompaniment to psychotherapy and, if choosing, medication. Read all about using exercise to overcome anxiety on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website. In addition to exercise, many people support their clinical treatment of anxiety with other natural methods. These include meditation, yoga, acupuncture, herbal supplements and vitamins, and the aromatherapy of essential oils.

The treatment of every mental health condition is unique – just like your personality, likes and dislikes, and sense of humor. It might take time to find the right “recipe,” but don’t let that stop you: help is available, and there are plenty of therapeutic ingredients to choose from. If you or a loved one is suffering from anxiety, please give us a call at (716) 831-1800. We can help.