We live in a stressful world, and it is not uncommon to feel anxious from time to time. However, some people experience higher and more consistent levels of anxiety than other people.
When a person has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a prescribing psychiatric nurse or a doctor will recommend a combination of drugs and therapy for their anxiety treatment.
Psychoanalysis or psychodynamic treatment, in which a therapist delves into a person’s childhood and analyzes their dreams, is essentially a thing of the past. However, there are still some psychotherapists who use this method of therapy to treat anxiety.
Behavioral therapy is the most common form of treatment amongst psychotherapists. A therapist who uses behaviorism will try to change the thought patterns and behavior of a patient.
Cognitive-behavioral treatment is often used in cases of generalized anxiety disorder. CBT is more effective than other types of psychiatric methods.
CBT is based on the idea that certain psychological disorders come from having learned an unhelpful thought process. For example, it teaches people who suffer from anxiety disorders a variety of coping mechanisms.
This form of therapy teaches you to recognize various distortions in your thought patterns. It teaches you to understand why other people behave the way they do. It also teaches people to have more confidence in their abilities. Finally, it uses breathing and meditation techniques to calm one’s body.
A person who suffers from an anxiety disorder may be prescribed a medication that blocks selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
How Serotonin Works
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which means that it carries signals from one neuron to another. When this transmission takes place, serotonin can be reabsorbed into the neutrons.
Serotonin is considered a hormone that stabilizes mood in the human body. It can control feelings of happiness and well-being. It also affects a person’s appetite and digestion. Some people have lower levels of serotonin than others.
How Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors Work
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) stop serotonin from being reabsorbed into neurons. Therefore, the more serotonin is available in the brain, the better it will carry messages between neurons.
Benzodiazepines are another type of drug used for anxiety. They sedate a person by increasing the levels of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. GABA blocks or lessens specific brain signals and calms activity in a person’s nervous system.
It can be helpful to know a few things about specific anxiety disorders and how behavioral therapy and psychotropic drugs are used for each of those disorders.
What are the different types of anxiety disorders?
People who have panic disorder have frequent panic attacks. This means that they have panic attacks in which they experience an intense feeling of terror even when there is no actual danger.
A person having a panic attack might lose their composure, and their heart rate may skyrocket. In addition, they may feel chilly or hot, and they may feel intense abdominal pain.
How is Panic Disorder treated?
A cognitive-behavioral therapist will teach a person to de-escalate their panic attacks. For example, a person having a panic attack will think that they will have a heart attack, that they are going to pass out, or wonder if they are going crazy.
Provided they have not been diagnosed with heart problems by a doctor, a therapist will tell them to think realistically when they feel a panic attack coming on. For example, if a person feels that they may pass out from a panic attack, a therapist will train the person to remind themselves that their heart rate increases during a panic attack, and the heart rate drops before a person passes out. They will teach them the symptoms of a heart attack versus those of a panic attack.
Benzodiazepines such as Alprazolam and clonazepam are prescribed for panic attacks.
When a person has a social anxiety disorder, they may have trouble interacting with other people. For example, they may have difficulty having a simple conversation with someone at work or in a social situation. In some extreme cases, they may not be able to leave the house.
A person with social anxiety may also have an eating disorder and may be prone to excessive sweating.
How Social Anxiety is Treated
Cognitive-behavioral therapy treatment involves gradually exposing patients to situations that they fear.
A therapist will sometimes use role-playing situations in which they will practice social skills. They will try to build confidence gradually as they work their way through various scenarios.
Several techniques are used to change a person’s thought processes, including using legal arguments to make a person see the flaw in their thought process. A therapist will take one of the client’s negative thoughts and weigh the evidence for that negative thought against evidence to the contrary.
For example, a person may think that they are not worth paying attention to. They will make a list of evidence for their beliefs, such as being ignored in school or overlooked by someone they have a crush on. They will also make a list of evidence to the contrary. The list might include friends who care about the patient or family members who count on the patient. The hope is that the evidence to the contrary will outweigh the evidence that supports the person’s fear.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are used to treat social anxiety. Zoloft is a common drug that is prescribed in this situation.
General Anxiety Disorder
When a person is plagued by consistent and excessive worry, their fears may be about several different elements of their life. A person with GAD might be overcome with concerns about money.
If you have GAD, then you may experience such symptoms as a sense of impending doom accompanied by an increased heart rate. They may also develop insomnia and find that they are drowsy during the day.
Feeling nervous all the time may lead to stomach issues. A GAD sufferer may find it difficult to concentrate on ordinary things.
Treatment for GAD
Treatment for generalized anxiety disorder is similar to those of persons with panic attacks. The therapist teaches them to recognize when they are experiencing anxiety and how to look at it realistically. For example, if someone has a sense that the worst is going to happen, a therapist will remind them to think of times in the past where they believed that something terrible would happen and it did not.
Anxiety disorder can be very debilitating. However, the right therapist and medications can make you feel better and let you lead an everyday life.