People who wish to relieve anxiety have a number of cognitive, over-the-counter, and prescription treatments available to choose from. Whether they entail changing one’s thoughts and behavior or taking supplements or medication, any regimen used to relieve anxiety should be undertaken with the advice and supervision of a doctor. A medical professional is able to evaluate which type of anxiety treatment is best for you, based on factors such as your medical history, the source of your anxiety, and its severity. For example, a patient who experiences a panic attack following a stressful event would likely have different treatment than a patient who is debilitated by severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
One of the most popular treatments used for relieving anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy operates on the premise that certain thoughts trigger feelings of anxiety, and if those thoughts can be stopped or countered, the anxiety can be diminished. Psychologists and counselors often treat people suffering from anxiety and depression with CBT by teaching them coping exercises that involve replacing a stressful thought with another thought, or rationalizing the anxious thought using positive internal dialogue or self-talk.
Herbal plant supplements such as St John's wort and kava-kava are also taken to relieve anxiety. Both supplements are available in over-the-counter capsule form at most pharmacies, supermarkets and natural health food stores. Although these particular anxiety treatments are available without a prescription, and often considered to be more natural than other medications, they also carry a risk of side effects and even dependence like their prescription counterparts. Some potential side effects of St John's wort include vomiting, headaches, and high blood pressure, while side effects of kava-kava may include skin rashes, drowsiness, and liver toxicity.
Anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines are often prescribed to relieve anxiety, particularly for patients experiencing panic attacks, as they take effect quickly. They work by reducing activity in the brain and are most commonly prescribed under the names Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam). Side-effects for benzodiazepines may include drowsiness, impaired driving ability, decreased libido, blurred vision, and others.
In addition to treating depression, anti-depressants such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and selective serotonin reputake inhibitors (SSRIs) are also prescribed to relieve anxiety. Although the risk for dependency tends to be less with anti-depressants than anti-anxiety drugs, they take longer to take effect on the patient (usually four to six weeks) and can also have serious side effects, including increased suicide risk.