Have you been struggling with anxiety? There are so many potential anxiety causes in 2021, and more and more people are realizing that they can no longer manage their anxious thoughts on their own.
When you start noticing anxiety symptoms that you can’t handle, it’s time to start seeking out interventions for anxiety. But what’s the right anxiety treatment for you? What are your options?
Luckily, there are plenty of treatment options that range from therapy to lifestyle changes. There’s something for everyone, no matter how treatment-resistant your anxiety disorder is.
Keep reading for some of the most popular anxiety treatment options.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (often referred to as CBT) is one of the most popular forms of therapy for a variety of mental health conditions. Anxiety is no exception.
Because CBT works well with a variety of disorders, it’s great for treating anxiety that exists as a result of another condition or that exists as a comorbid disorder. This way, the therapy is treating the problem instead of only treating the symptom.
CBT teaches patients how to understand their own feelings and cope with them. It teaches people the skills that they need to think critically so they aren’t at the mercy of their anxiety.
The core belief that drives CBT is that beliefs, emotions, and thoughts are intertwined. Our beliefs trigger our thoughts which then impact our feelings. CBT teaches patients how to analyze and rewire faulty beliefs.
CBT can also act as a form of exposure therapy if that’s what the patient needs. It creates a safe environment for the patient to explore the causes of their anxiety.
EMDR therapy (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is another option for people who are struggling with anxiety. This is a form of exposure therapy that works well for people who have anxiety as a result of trauma.
During EMDR therapy, the therapist will help the patient access and analyze memories that cause them significant distress. While the patient is accessing those memories, they’ll observe a moving dot, listen to a repetitive sound, tap the sides of their body, or watch the therapist’s movement.
The goal of EMDR therapy is to allow the patient to work through those memories in a controlled environment so they can heal instead of shoving them deeper. Resisting stressful memories will not help anxiety.
Many people choose to seek medication from a psychiatrist to help them handle their anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with seeking medical help if you’re struggling.
There are a variety of long-term medications that can ease anxiety, especially if it’s comorbid with another condition.
SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most popular medications for people who are struggling with anxiety and depression. They help with emotional regulation. People who struggle with regulating their emotions have a more difficult time managing anxiety.
Buspirone is another long-term anxiety medication. Patients take it every day with a meal. It should result in quieter thoughts and an overall feeling of “calm” and relaxation.
Some people aren’t interested in taking medication full-time. Whether they have situational anxiety, they react poorly to long-term medication, or they simply aren’t interested in taking too much medication, there are other options.
When we discuss short-acting anxiety medications, we’re often referring to benzodiazepines. This medication class includes popular anxiety medications such as Xanax and Klonopin.
These medications have a quick release time and a short half-life. They should start giving you results within several minutes to an hour, making them great for sudden bursts of anxiety that are unmanageable.
One problem with these medications is that they can be addictive and can interact with other substances. It’s important to take medication under the guidance of a medical professional.
Many people start taking medication while their anxiety is at its worst and ween themselves off of it when it’s more manageable. Talk to your doctor about whether or not this would be an appropriate option for you.
Have you heard people talking about mindfulness?
Mindfulness is somewhat of a buzzword in 2021, but at its core, it’s a good thing. Mindfulness is the idea that you need to take yourself out of your own head and live “in the moment” to combat anxious thoughts.
When you’re mindful, you’re “being present.” So what are some things that you can do to make that happen?
If you find yourself spending too much time on the internet, force yourself to log off. Consider disabling notifications from your various social media apps and resist the urge to “doom scroll.”
If the weather is good, try to spend some time outdoors without your electronics. Connecting with nature is a great way to stay mindful and disconnect from stressful thoughts.
Try to do everything with intention. Consider adding more “intentional” actions to your day so you aren’t moving on autopilot. For example, if you have the time, consider setting up a French press or pour-over station for your coffee instead of using the machine. This gives you a procedure that you need to be present for first thing in the morning.
Grounding is a great tool when you struggle with anxiety. Like mindfulness, grounding techniques help connect you to the world around you instead of your inner thoughts.
The most popular grounding technique is the “5 4 3 2 1” method. It uses your senses to ground you to the current moment.
Start by identifying five things that you can see. Even if you’re in an empty room, you can see things like cracks in the paint, the texture of your floor, and so on.
Move onto four things that you can touch. You can feel the floor, the walls, the texture of your clothing, your skin, or even a sensory object that you keep with you.
Then you move on to three things that you can hear and two that you can smell. Finally, one thing that you can taste. We suggest keeping chewing gum or hard candy with you to make that last one easier.
Many people struggle with meditation. Meditation requires you to turn off your racing thoughts and escape “somewhere else,” but for people with anxiety, that can feel impossible.
Meditation is often paired with other mindfulness techniques, but it can also stand alone. People who incorporate meditation into their anti-anxiety treatment program see great results.
When you start meditating, try to be easy on yourself. Your goal is to clear your mind of thoughts, but don’t be discouraged if some intrusive thoughts come through. Recognize them, accept them, and move forward.
Some people benefit from soft noises or white noise while they meditate so that there’s something to focus on.
Did you know that exercise is good for your mental health?
Many people who are already struggling with anxiety and depression resist this notion. It’s true that exercise won’t cure your anxiety, but it will help.
First, exercise is a fantastic outlet for stress and frustration. It’s a great way to clear your head because it gives you something physical to focus on. It’s difficult to ruminate on anxious thoughts when you’re running, dancing, lifting heavy weights, or doing any other kind of vigorous activity.
Exercise also releases endorphins. Endorphins are “feel-good chemicals” that can relieve pain and anxiety. This is one of the causes of the ever-popular “runners high.”
If you choose to do an exercise like yoga, you can also incorporate it into your mindfulness techniques. Yoga is great for mindfulness and it encourages rhythmic breathing.
The trick to finding a good anxiety-reducing exercise is to focus on something that you think that you’d enjoy. Don’t overwhelm yourself by overdoing it or picking an exercise that you’re “supposed” to do. The best workout is the one that you do.
Group therapy or support groups are great options for people who have anxiety and seek a community of other people who understand them.
These groups have some similarities to “conventional” therapy. Instead of talking one-on-one with a therapist, people in the group will all share their experiences and learn coping skills together.
Some people may feel anxious when they start group therapy. If you’re shy or your anxiety is too extreme to reveal yourself to a group, consider starting with individual therapy and moving forward when you feel more comfortable.
There are many potential interventions for anxiety that therapists and psychiatrists recommend. Whether you benefit from therapy, medication, mindfulness training, or lifestyle changes (or a combination of all of them), healing your anxiety isn’t impossible.
If your anxiety persists despite your best efforts, talk to your doctor about TMS. It’s an off-label secondary option for anxiety and many patients find it effective. It uses magnetic brain stimulation to stimulate nervous system activity.
If you think TMS might be right for you, we want to help. Contact us to learn more and to see if you’re a good candidate today.