Anxiety treatment has become a hot button issue today because the statistics are astounding. In America alone, approximately 40 million adults, age 18 and above, suffer from anxiety disorders. Add to that number the countless children from dysfunctional families who suffer anxiety due to abuse and neglect, plus children with parents who have exhausted all their prescription drug options, and it is easy to see why more people are looking for a wider range of anxiety treatment choices.
Anxiety Treatment Choices
Whether it is a case of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), general anxiety, panic, or phobia, a patient generally has four treatment choices. However, the severity or nuances of a case will determine the appropriate treatment, which should be agreed upon by both patient and doctor.
1. Some people also turn to alternative medicines for their anxiety treatment. Alternative medicines have become increasingly more popular within the last decade, partly due to the fewer side effects they cause than prescription medicines. Like prescription medicines, alternative medicines work to help relieve the symptoms of anxiety disorder, but they cannot cure it. Before you consider taking any alternative medicine, you should do some research to make certain it is indicated as a treatment for anxiety, and that it does not conflict with any medications that you currently take. Be careful about what you take, and how much you take, to avoid more serious side effects and health issues. Some of the common alternative medicines for anxiety treatment are St. John’s Wort, which usually takes effect within about six weeks, Valerian Root, which helps with insomnia, Kava Kava, which helps lessen anxiety and depression, and Passion Flower, which is know to alleviate some anxiety symptoms.
But drugs, whether herbal or prescription, have not been shown to cause permanent relief and can only be considered real treatment when taken in conjunction with mental and behavior therapy.
Before taking any prescription anxiety medicine, you should do some research about the drug, learn about the way it works, and what the long term effects are. Drugs cannot help you alter your behavior, or learn ways to deal with anxiety triggers.
Some examples of herbal medications are Ashwaghanda Root, Passion Flower, and the popular SJW (St. Johns Wort). B-complex vitamins have also been found to be beneficial.
2. Prescription Medication, although undoubtedly effective, has its disadvantages, such as serious side effects, withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, and even addiction. Drugs, which can provide temporary chemical balance, cannot change the attitudes and thought patterns that are the root cause of anxiety in many patients.
What many people do not know is that clinical research has proven prescription drugs to be NO MORE EFFECTIVE than natural alternatives and, in some cases, placebos!
Examples of prescription drugs are Benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax), Antidepressants (e.g., Prozac, Zoloft), and Azapirones (e.g., BuSpar).
3. Psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavior Therapy addresses anxiety at its core: the thoughts, feelings, and memories that drive it. Drugs and herbal remedies, which help with symptom relief, must be taken with therapy that will work on creating new, positive associative thought patterns in the patient. When you begin behavior therapy, you will first list your fears in order from worst to least. Then you will start at the bottom and work your up, facing and learning to deal with each fear along the way. You will learn behaviors that can help you deal with anxiety while facing your fears, such as deep breathing, and other ways to cope. Once you have faced your fear, you will continue doing it until you have the confidence to move up the list. Eventually, you will learn how to face all of your fears, and not suffer from anxiety while doing it. You will be able to cope with these fearful situations should you face them on your own in the world outside of therapy.
4. Exercise has been proven by a growing number of clinical studies to relieve the symptoms of anxiety as well as other mental health conditions such as depression. It has also been shown to prevent relapse after regular treatment. Not only does it burn up adrenaline, making you less likely to have an anxiety attack, it helps you to relax. Exercise helps relieve muscle tension and soreness, is a good outlet for stress or frustration, and helps to increase your overall fitness and boost your energy level.
Studies show that it takes at least half an hour of exercise per day, at least 3 to 5 days per week to impact anxiety symptoms. But even short periods of physical activity, say 10-15 minutes, were shown to enhance short-term moods. Add to that the overall health benefit and it is easy to see why exercise makes a great anxiety treatment.