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What is Anxiety Therapy?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 February 2018
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Anxiety therapy can refer to any therapeutic method that helps deal with persistent worrying, sometimes called generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder (which typically involves panic attacks), social anxiety disorder, which makes people more than simply worried about social interactions, or to some degree post traumatic stress syndrome. This last may have symptoms of anxiety too. All forms of anxiety therapy have the goal of attempting to eliminate or minimize symptoms of these conditions.

There are several “counseling” approaches in anxiety therapy. Perhaps the best known is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is a teaching method and a therapy that works on eliminating expressions of anxiety by identifying core beliefs that create it. The false core beliefs are replaced with more accurate assessments of the situation and over time people learn to discard “hot thoughts” or driving assumptions that have contributed to their stress. CBT has proven successful for many, is time limited and usually takes no more than twenty sessions. However it won’t work unless the person seeking treatment is willing do significant homework in between sessions.

Another treatment method for anxiety is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). It shares some aspects in common with CBT. In brief this therapy requires that people reframe their thinking and assumptions to reduce anxiety. ACT usually requires homework too, and there may not be as many therapists who offer this because it is newer.

Traditional talk therapy is another type of anxiety therapy. Psychoanalysis might help patients look for the root cause of anxiety in childhood experiences. This might be very effective for people who have suffered considerable trauma and need abreaction (repetition of the trauma in a spoken form). Others may use therapy methods like hypnosis or eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Some therapists offer a collection of techniques that have seemed most effective in helping their other clients with conditions related to anxiety.

Anxiety therapy doesn't always involve the therapist. Psychiatrists or other doctors may prescribe medications to help people deal with the symptoms of anxiety. Though these may prove helpful, they don’t usually address the condition and might merely cover it. While anxiety medication is very useful, the gold standard is a combination of medication and some form of talk therapy.

Other therapies may be recommended in conjunction with meds and psychological therapy. These could include massage therapy, which many find relaxing. People with anxiety might also be advised to learn deep breathing techniques, meditative exercise like yoga, or at the very least to practice some form of exercise, which may help reduce stress and worry.

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