As with every feeling we have, Anxiety is chosen. Although coming to this realization takes time and work.
Anxiety disorders are treated with specific types of psychotherapy, medication, or both. A person’s symptoms are caused by an anxiety disorder or a physical problem. When treating anxiety, medication can help to temporarily decrease a person’s anxiety to help them utilize and practice what they learn in psychotherapy sessions. Medication without psychotherapy is rarely a permanent solution, unless the person plans to take the medication for the rest of his or her life.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is very useful in treating anxiety disorders. The cognitive part helps people change the thinking patterns that support their fears, and the behavioral part helps people change the way they react to anxiety-provoking situations. For example, CBT can help people with panic disorder learn that their panic attacks are not really heart attacks and help people with social phobia learn how to overcome the belief that others are always watching and judging them. When people are ready to confront their fears, they are shown how to use exposure techniques to desensitize themselves to situations that trigger their anxieties.
Exposure therapy helps people face and control their fear. It exposes them to the situations that cause anxiety in a safe way. It uses mental imagery, writing, or visits to the place that triggers the anxiety. The therapist uses these tools to help people with anxiety disorders such as social phobia, and PTSD cope with their feelings.
Cognitive restructuring helps people make sense of the bad memories. Sometimes people remember the event differently than how it happened. They may feel guilt or shame about what is not their fault. The therapist helps people with PTSD look at what happened in a realistic way.
Stress inoculation training tries to reduce anxiety symptoms by teaching a person about anxiety and the skills needed to reduce it on their own. First the person learns about the general nature of stress and are taught important concepts such as appraisal and cognitive distortions which play a keyrole in how we react to stress. Like cognitive restructuring, this treatment helps people look at their memories in a healthy way.
Erick Godel, MFT