Anxiety disorders - Treatments
This section gives information on:
How are anxiety disorders treated?
The NHS offer low-intensity treatments, talking therapy or medication to treat anxiety disorders. Some people will need both at the same time. People can recovery from anxiety disorders.
What are low-intensity treatments?
Non-facilitated means that you will try to help yourself using information for the NHS.
You should get:
- A written or electronic information based on cognitive behavioural therapy principles.
- Instructions to work through the material over at least 6 weeks.
- Very brief support from a therapist such as a 5-minute telephone conversation.
- get written or electronic materials,
- be supported by a trained professional, who delivers the self-help programme and reviews progress and outcomes, and
- get 5 to 7 weekly or fortnightly face-to-face or telephone sessions. Each lasting 20–30 minutes. But this will depend on the type of anxiety that you have.
Psycho-education means that you will learn about your symptoms and how to manage them.
Your learning should:
- be based on CBT,
- get you involved,
- include presentations from a trained professional,
- include self-help manuals,
- have 1 therapist to about 12 people, and
- Usually be 6 weekly sessions, each lasting 2 hours. But this will depend on the type of anxiety that you have
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.
Depending on the anxiety that you have, you will usually get 12–15 weekly sessions each lasting 1 hour. You should get less if you recover sooner and more if you need it.
Applied relaxation means that you will focus on relaxing your muscles in a certain way. And at a certain time. For example learning how you can relax your muscles so that you are able to fall asleep easier.
A trained therapist will teach you different techniques to manage your situation.
Depending on the anxiety that you have, you will usually get 12–15 weekly sessions each lasting 1 hour. You will get less if you recover sooner and more if you need it.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP)
This is effective for a range of anxiety disorders, particularly obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Your therapist will encourage you to experience your obsessive thoughts and help you to manage them in a different way. They will build up the difficulty of each task.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRI’s are a type of antidepressant used to treat anxiety disorders. Sertraline is the most common SSRI suggested for anxiety, but there are other SSRIs available.
Doctors should 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 usually part of mainstream NHS care. Some people find them useful for helping with symptoms of anxiety. Such as mindfulness, yoga and hypnotherapy.
Click on the following to find more information on them:
How can I ask for help and treatment?
You should make an appointment to talk with your GP if you are worried about your symptoms. Or they are causing problems in your day to day life.
Your doctor will look at different things when deciding on your treatment such as the following:
- Your diagnosis and symptoms.
- What options you have tried already.
- Your goals and preferences.
- Any other conditions you have.
- Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The NHS should follow the NICE guidelines for the treatment and care of anxiety disorders. The guidelines aren’t legally binding. This means that your GP can decide not to follow the guideline. But they should be able to explain their decision to you.
You can download NICE guidance for free from here or contact NICE publications on 0300 323 0140 for paper copies. NICE has written copies of these guidelines for patients and carers too.
Click on the following for information on them:
What can I do to help myself?
As well as medication or talking treatments you could also try self-help techniques. These are things that you can do to help you relax and manage your symptoms better.
It is important to find out what is right for you. Don’t expect things to change overnight. You may need to practice your self help techniques on a regular basis before your symptoms get better.
Some examples of self-help techniques are the following:
- Learning ways to relax such as listening to meditation CDs or relaxing music.
- Eat healthy foods regularly.
- Exercise more.
- Have a daily routine.
- Have healthy relationships.
- Have enough sleep.
- Keep a mood diary to be more aware of your symptoms and what makes you better and worse.
You can find more information about self help here.
What if I am not happy with my treatment?
You can try the following options if:
- you are not happy with your care or treatment,
- or feel that the relationship between yourself and your professional is not working well,
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
PALS are part the NHS. There will be PALS in your area. They can try to sort problems or answer questions about the NHS.
You can find your local PALS’ details here.
Advocacy can help you to be a part of decisions about your care.
An advocate is someone independent from the NHS. This means that the NHS doesn’t employ them. Advocacy services are free to use. Usually a charity will run an advocacy service. An advocate is there to support you. They can help to make your voice heard when you are trying to sort problems. They may be able to help you to write a letter to the NHS or go to a meeting with you.
You can find more information about ‘Advocacy’ here.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
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