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Why Worry? Treatments for Anxiety
Posted: 11/8/2011 | Personal Development Comments
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In previous “Why Worry?” part one and part two blogs, we’ve explored many aspects of anxiety. We looked at the definition of anxiety, the various symptoms, the causes and how we’re affected by anxiety. We reviewed anxiety disorders, especially Social Phobia, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder which people suffer from most commonly in our culture. Now let’s look at treatments used for anxiety and anxiety disorders. We’ll begin with conventional therapies.

According to statistics, the first conventional treatment most commonly recommended is Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. This type of therapy is usually short term, focusing on one particular problem centering on thoughts and behaviors, based on the premise that anxiety can be dispelled by identifying negative thinking patterns and irrational beliefs that create or fuel our anxiety. The therapist helps the patient to adapt his or her problematic thought patterns into healthier ones, also helping the patient combat undesirable behaviors that often accompany anxiety. CBT is a big part of the curriculum in graduate schools, I suspect at least partially because it’s preferred by insurance companies. CBT can be a great start, but the problem I see is that it only goes so deep and no further. It doesn’t always address the root causes of anxiety.
Cognitive therapy is most effective with immediate distress. A good example would be working with someone with a panic disorder. In order to lessen the intensity of panic attacks, the therapist helps the patient learn to mentally “re-approach” the anxiety-inducing situations. The patient might learn relaxation and deep-breathing exercises to use when experiencing hyperventilation during an anxiety attack.
A good therapist with comprehensive training can help treat not only the anxiety but all the fear, sadness and grief under it. They’ll also help uncover the hidden feelings and thoughts contributing to behaviors that prevent you from being as successful as you’d like to be in your life. It’s important to remember: anxiety is a symptom. The anxiety will need to be addressed directly if it becomes debilitating. But I’ve learned, from 25 years of experience, it’s also important to explore the unconscious beliefs and feelings keeping you from fulfilling your true potential.
The next common and conventional therapy used for anxiety disorders is Exposure Therapy. This type of therapy confronts a person’s fear in a safe, controlled environment. It’s based on the theory that gradual, repeated exposure to the feared object or situation will help release the fear and gain a sense of control. As the fear is faced without harm occurring, the anxiety diminishes. With some problems and circumstances this therapy can be very helpful. 
The problem with ET is that many objects and situations can’t be replicated in a therapist’s office. Snakes, clowns and whatever else scares an individual are difficult to acquire and manage. We can apply this concept using guided imagery in therapy sessions. By taking the client into a light trance, a skilled psychotherapist can help the client walk through the fearful circumstances resulting in real, internal changes. 
The third conventional therapy for anxiety disorders is medication. These generally include benzodiazepines and antidepressants, and are often combined with behavioral therapy. In the short term it can relieve severe anxiety symptoms. Pharmaceuticals were originally prescribed to be used by people who are in psychotherapy. For deep and lasting changes, I think the two are optimal in tandem. 
So are there less conventional, more holistic treatments for anxiety disorders? Yes! There are a myriad of alternative therapies available. Some have a large amount of research proving efficacy, while others are fairly new to research in the U.S.
Following are a few examples of alternative treatments to consider that have worked well for many people. Some are great for infrequent or mild anxiety. Some are an excellent companion therapy to psychotherapy, especially with more severe levels of anxiety and depression. Keep in mind that not every therapy works for every individual, and a well-trained psychotherapist can help guide you to find the very best treatment for you.
Body work: these are therapies that involve manipulating the body, such as massage, Shiatzu, and dance therapy. All can help relieve stress, muscle tension and aid with sleep.
Mind-Body therapies: these are therapies based on the idea that our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects are connected. Many of these have been helpful to my clients through the years: breathing exercises, physical exercise, yoga, tai chi and other martial arts, hypnosis, meditation, energy healing, Integrated Kabbalistic Healing, EFT, Sedona and biofeedback are all examples.
Nutritional Supplements: some people find nutritional support to be extremely helpful with anxiety. Herbs commonly used are: passionflower, valerian root, kava kava, skullcap and chamomile. Some common nutritional supplements are: pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins. Homeopathic medicine uses highly diluted doses of natural substances that come from plant, mineral and animal sources. Flower essences can be helpful. It’s best to seek the advice of a naturopathic physician or other trained professional in these modalities before choosing a supplemental regimen.
Aromatherapy: inhaling the fragrance of essential plant oils provide psychological and physical benefits, and can aid in relaxation and generating a more positive attitude. I’ve seen wonderful help from these oils. Common scents include Bergamot, Cypress, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Melissa, Neroli, Rose, Sandalwood, Ylang-ylang, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Juniper, Jasmine, Lemon, Hyssop, Marjoram, Frankincense and Lavender. Some blends I can recommend are: Peace and Calming, Surrender, Release, Evergreen Essence along with Valor, Grounding, Hope, Joy, Harmony and White Angelica. These can be layered one oil upon the other and can be mixed with a carrier oil or most can be used neat. Oil can be dropped into warm bath water, inhaled in a pan on the stove or can be diffused by forced air. For more information you can ask me here or go to http://HealingPathEssentials.younglivingworld.com
Acupuncture: this type of treatment has become far more mainstream in our country, and is often covered by insurance. Acupuncture helps calm the central nervous system and promote relaxation. Many studies indicate that it can help reduce anxiety-related symptoms, including rapid heart rate and increase in blood pressure. An acupuncturist might also recommend Chinese herbs that help with anxiety.
Meditation: this is a practice that helps people grow calmer and less vulnerable to stress and tension. Meditation is an excellent, even essential component of anxiety disorder treatment as it teaches how to quiet the mind. Clinical studies show that meditation decreases blood pressure and practiced over time can lead to a greater and sustainable sense of peace and well-being. It can also be used just before an anxiety-inducing situation, such as making a presentation or dealing with a conflict.
Of course there are many types of meditations that can be practiced. Some involve moving the body while others have the person sit still. Some include prayer, some are connected to a specific religious philosophy, and others may just focus on breathing. 
Anxiety and anxiety disorders are successfully treated with a wide variety of therapies, both conventional and alternative. Let your psychotherapist help you find the very best ongoing treatment for you. Through practice, time and nurturing you really can overcome anxiety and empower yourself to live fully again. 
Have you successfully treated anxiety? What treatments or therapies worked best for you, and what didn’t? Your comments make a difference for all of us.


Jaylyn       Posted: 11/21/2011 9:14:27 AM

I have been so bewildeerd in the past but now it all makes sense!

vomit phobia       Posted: 2/7/2012 5:34:05 AM

I have been a sufferer of anxiety since childhood up until my middle age. After trying all kinds of medication and therapies vainly, I opted for regular exercises and meditation. I also benefited a lot from acupuncture. Thanks a lot for sharing this incredible information. I am sure all of these work for different individuals and bodies.

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