Many different types of therapy can help manage anxiety symptoms. Some approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), teach skills to change negative thoughts and behaviors. CBT recognizes that your thoughts, emotions, and behavior are interconnected. It also teaches you to face your fears and gradually expose yourself to the situations that cause them.
The first goal of managing anxiety is to help you understand what’s causing your symptoms and how they affect your life. Like any other type of treatment, this education process is key to success.
The most common treatment for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps you identify the dysfunctional thought patterns that fuel your anxieties and teaches you skills to replace them with more helpful, realistic thoughts.
CBT teaches relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Practicing these skills in sessions and at home can help you control your physical responses to anxiety, which may include trembling and hyperventilation.
Other types of anxiety therapy may include mindfulness meditation and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These therapies help you cope with negative emotions like anger and depression while also teaching you healthy coping mechanisms. In addition, addressing stress in your daily life through simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep, can improve your mood. This, in turn, reduces your anxiety levels.
Helps You Deal With Your Emotions
Whether your anxiety is mild or severe, there are many ways you can benefit from therapy. Your therapist can help you learn to deal with your negative emotions and teach you healthy coping skills that will improve your quality of life.
The most common treatment for anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on helping you understand how your thoughts influence your feelings and provides you with tools to change them. It also encourages you to participate in activities that make you nervous and helps you realize your feared outcomes are unlikely. During this process, you may need to take medication, such as benzodiazepines, which promote muscle relaxation and calm your mind.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is another effective treatment for anxiety disorders. This type of therapy addresses issues that can cause anxiety, such as conflicts with friends and family members or unresolved grief. It can also be helpful for people with PTSD and certain phobias. Other therapies you can use to treat your anxiety include EMDR, which uses eye movements or tapping to reprocess traumatic memories and reduce symptoms of emotional distress.
Helps You Build Better Relationships
A therapist provides a safe, supportive environment where you can express your thoughts and feelings. They may help you identify the root causes of your anxiety, including certain triggers like caffeine, skipping meals, or social events. They can also teach you stress management techniques and coping skills.
Some therapists use mindfulness-based therapies, such as meditation and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These strategies emphasize being present in the moment and cultivating non-judgmental awareness. Others, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, target anxiety symptoms directly by identifying negative thought patterns and teaching skills to manage them.
For example, CBT addresses the three major components of anxiety—worry, physical arousal or edginess, and avoidance—by targeting their underlying causes. During CBT, you will learn to recognize and challenge your anxious thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy uses eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to help you overcome the distress associated with traumatic memories. Interpersonal therapy (IPT) focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and can be helpful for people whose anxiety is related to relationship issues or unresolved grief.
Helps You Improve Your Communication Skills
When you participate in anxiety therapy, your therapist can teach you to identify stressors and coping strategies. By doing so, you will be able to create a more positive mental outlook and a healthier lifestyle.
Your therapist can also help you overcome communication barriers and improve your relationships. They can give you strategies to say no, set boundaries, and help you healthily express emotions. They can also teach you to notice when you are experiencing negative emotions, such as fear or anger, and stop them from overwhelming you.
Cognitive and behavioral treatments typically target three major components of anxiety: misguided appraisals of danger, physical arousal or edginess, and avoidance behaviors. They may also address underlying issues such as depression, traumatic memories, and strained relationships. They also help patients develop skills that last long after their treatment ends. This gives patients confidence to allay their distress whenever it arises. The benefit of this is that it can prevent the need for medication. This is one of the reasons why anxiety therapy is so successful.
Helps You Develop Healthy Habits
Many of the unhealthy patterns that lead to anxiety – worrying, feeling physically apprehensive or edgy, and avoidance – can be changed with therapy. CBT focuses on identifying and understanding these patterns to replace them with productive behaviors and positive thoughts.
One way to help change these habits is by teaching patients skills like re-framing unhelpful anxious thoughts and challenging irrational fears. Another method is exposure therapy, which involves exposing patients to situations or objects that trigger anxiety in small, step-by-step ways. This can happen in real life (in-vivo exposure), with their imagination (imaginal exposure), or through computer simulations (virtual reality exposure).
In addition, therapists can help patients learn to cope with stress and negative feelings by encouraging them to socialize and practice relaxation techniques. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep and exercising regularly, can decrease anxiety symptoms. Finding a therapist who is a good match for you may take some time and patience. But it is worth the effort if it means getting the relief from anxiety that you deserve.