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What are Some Treatments for Anxiety?

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, approximately 40,000,000 adults are affected by an anxiety disorder in the U.S., most of them women. Left untreated, anxiety can escalate and impact career, social, and family relationships. In addition, studies have shown that having an anxiety disorder significantly increases the risk of developing other conditions, such as depression and heart disease. However, until fairly recently, the condition was poorly understood and even dismissed. Fortunately, increased awareness has resulted in several effective treatments for anxiety becoming available.

Careful screening and diagnosis by a qualified health care practitioner is necessary to determine the best course of treatment. This is because there are several types of anxiety disorders, each having a different origin and therapeutic response. For example, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stems from surviving a traumatic event, such as a violent crime, accident, or natural disaster. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), on the other hand, is characterized by a feeling of dread about upcoming social events due to an irrational fear of being judged or humiliated. However, the most common anxiety disorder is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which is accompanied by chronic worry, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.

Green tea contains several ingredients that might help ease anxiety.
Green tea contains several ingredients that might help ease anxiety.

Conventional treatments for anxiety generally consist of medication or psychotherapy, or both. Medications often prescribed include benzodiazepines (sedatives) and buspirone (a serotonin receptor agonist), and antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac®). In terms of psychiatric treatments for anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) usually heads the list. The goal of this therapy is to modify automatic thought processes so that negative thoughts and behaviors may be replaced by more positive ones.

Lysine supplements can keep cortisol levels in check during emotionally stressful times.
Lysine supplements can keep cortisol levels in check during emotionally stressful times.

Other less conventional treatments for anxiety are becoming increasingly popular too. For example, Exposure Therapy (ET) is another form of behavioral therapy in which the patient is guided through facing situations previously avoided by being exposed to them in a safe and supportive setting. Usually a short-term therapy, ET is most often used to treat PTSD and panic attacks. In some cases, this therapy may be expanded to involve imaginary or interoceptive exposure to situations that would otherwise be unsafe or impossible to explore physically. A case example where this therapy might apply would be a war veteran who has survived being wounded in battle.

Anxiety can be accompanied by insomnia.
Anxiety can be accompanied by insomnia.

There are also nutritional treatments for anxiety to consider. For example, studies have shown that supplementation with the amino acids L-tryptophan and L-tyrosine reduces symptoms of anxiety. The mechanism behind this action is due to serotonin and norepinephrine production being dependent on sufficient amounts of these amino acids being available. In addition, L-lysine keeps cortisol levels in check, which tend to become elevated during times of emotional stress. Theanine, another amino acid found in green tea, increases serotonin and dopamine production and alpha brain wave activity while providing a mild tranquilizing effect.

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to WiseGEEK is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

Learn more...
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to WiseGEEK is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

serenesurface

Caffeine and sugar have been proven to trigger anxiety. So anxiety patients should stay away from those, eat healthy and also exercise. Exercise naturally produces serotonin, it is relaxing and makes you happy! Yoga and meditation are also good options. They are very relaxing as well.

burcidi

I have generalized anxiety disorder. I have been trying to learn more about it and help myself deal with it for some time now. I think it's a multi-faceted disorder. There are many factors that cause it.

I have listened to a Professor Doctor talk about the disorder and I agree with his explanation. He believes that chronic anxiety is due to nerve malfunction in the brain that causes excessive reactions to stress.

It's good to go for therapy and try to resolve the issues that have led up to it. But I think medication is a must. This is a health problem just like any other. If we have high blood pressure, we take medication to balance it. If we have high sugar, we take insulin to balance that. In the same way, medication is necessary to help our brain produce the necessary chemicals to function properly.

SteamLouis

If the anxiety is being caused by environmental and situational factors, then maybe taking a break or a vacation might be beneficial.

I believe that we all have our limits, physically and emotionally. If we push ourselves over our limits, we will experience health problems, anxiety, depression and other problems.

So knowing our limits and lowering our expectations might helps us treat our anxiety and maybe prevent it from happening too. Don't you think so?

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    • Green tea contains several ingredients that might help ease anxiety.
      By: NataliTerr
      Green tea contains several ingredients that might help ease anxiety.
    • Lysine supplements can keep cortisol levels in check during emotionally stressful times.
      By: Steve Silver Smith
      Lysine supplements can keep cortisol levels in check during emotionally stressful times.
    • Anxiety can be accompanied by insomnia.
      By: Dan Race
      Anxiety can be accompanied by insomnia.
    • Anxiety can cause difficulty concentrating.
      By: Wojciech Sobiech
      Anxiety can cause difficulty concentrating.
    • Deep breathing can help people relax in stressful situations.
      By: byheaven
      Deep breathing can help people relax in stressful situations.
    • Many people find reading a book helps to reduce anxiety.
      By: Antonioguillem
      Many people find reading a book helps to reduce anxiety.
    • Vitamin B can be used to treat anxiety.
      By: David Stuart
      Vitamin B can be used to treat anxiety.
    • Watching TV might help to treat anxiety.
      By: xalanx
      Watching TV might help to treat anxiety.
    • Exposure therapy may be appropriate treatment for a war veteran that suffers from PTSD.
      By: John Gomez
      Exposure therapy may be appropriate treatment for a war veteran that suffers from PTSD.
    • Treatment for generalized anxiety disorders may include learning relaxations tips for when an anxiety attack is triggered.
      By: Andrew Lever
      Treatment for generalized anxiety disorders may include learning relaxations tips for when an anxiety attack is triggered.
    • Coping with anxiety can be as simple as discussing issues with a close friend.
      By: dmitrimaruta
      Coping with anxiety can be as simple as discussing issues with a close friend.
    • Anxiety may have an external source, such as an unfulfilling job.
      By: Kaspars Grinvalds
      Anxiety may have an external source, such as an unfulfilling job.
    • Because of their strong potential for addiction, benzodiazepines such as Klonopin and Xanax are used only as a last option when treating social anxiety.
      By: belahoche
      Because of their strong potential for addiction, benzodiazepines such as Klonopin and Xanax are used only as a last option when treating social anxiety.