Anxiety disorders - Treatments
How are anxiety disorders treated?
Your doctor will offer you treatment depending on your particular symptoms and diagnosis. They should fully involve you in this decision.
The NHS uses talking therapy and medication to treat anxiety disorders.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT helps you understand the links between your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It can help you to find ways to overcome your anxiety by challenging negative thoughts and beliefs.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP)
This is effective for a range of anxiety disorders, particularly OCD. Your therapist will encourage you to experience your obsessive thoughts without giving in to compulsive behaviour. They will gradually build up the difficulty of each task.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRI's are used to treat anxiety disorders including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Doctors will only prescribe benzodiazepines if your anxiety is extreme or if you are in crisis. This is because they are addictive and they may become less effective over time.
These can help with the physical signs of anxiety. They can help to lower a fast heartbeat, shaking or blushing.
Complementary therapies are treatments that are not part of mainstream medical care. Some people find them useful for helping with symptoms of anxiety. They can include things like mindfulness, yoga and hypnotherapy.
Anxiety can cause you to breathe badly or hyperventilate. Deep breathing techniques can help to overcome feelings of anxiety or panic attacks. Activities such as yoga, pilates and mindfulness meditation use breathing to help relaxation.
What treatment should I be offered?
There are different factors that your doctor will take into account when deciding your treatment.
- Your diagnosis and symptoms
- What options you have tried already
- What you want
- Any other conditions you have
- Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
NICE produces guidance for the NHS on how to treat anxiety disorders. Their guidance depends on diagnosis. They have guidance on:
- anxiety (which includes generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder),
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), and
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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