Treatment for Anxiety: Medicine, Psychotherapy, Behavioural Changes

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If you are one of the people commonly diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in the UK, you know that what may be considered a typical bout of anxiety for most is anything but for you. For those suffering from an anxiety disorder or phobia, the response to particular triggers is extreme and long-lasting. This is what characterises anxiety disorders and treatment requires medical intervention as well as behavioural changes to realise lasting change.

Seeking Help

If you are concerned that your bouts of anxiety may be more than just a normal response to stress, start with an appointment with your GP. Should your doctor feel unqualified to treat your symptoms, he or she can refer you to a mental health professional.

Mental health professionals include counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists or community psychiatric nurses. While only psychiatrists are allowed to dispense medications, other practitioners may offer group or individual counselling sessions over a period of weeks or months, depending on the severity of your illness.

Medications

Frequently, drugs are prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety disorders. There are three main classifications of drug treatment:

? Tranquilisers, of which the most common are benzodiazepines. They relieve anxiety effectively but carry the risk of dependency. A tranquiliser prescription should never be stopped without notifying your doctor as the symptoms of withdrawal can be severe. This class of drugs is usually only prescribed for short periods of time and often as a crisis intervention tool.
? Antidepressants are often used as treatment since those suffering from anxiety disorders usually also exhibit signs of depression. Antidepressants are used to treat both anxiety and depression. It will require two to four weeks to see results and some of the side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, drowsiness and constipation.
? Beta blockers counteract the physical effects of anxiety. Heart palpitations, chest pain, and tremors are just a few of the more common physical symptoms of anxiety.

Behavioural Changes

Finally, self treatment should begin with a program of behavioural changes. Techniques to better deal with anxiety include:

? Maintaining a positive outlook
? Setting small goals which overcome problems and motivate yourself to achieve them
? Relaxation through meditation, yoga, calming activities
? Regular exercise
? Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding caffeine and alcohol
? Sharing your worries with friends or family members
? Joining a self-help group or online discussion forum

For most people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a combination of the above treatment methods will be most effective. A holistic approach to treatment is always best as it addresses all the factors of anxiety: mental, physical, and behavioural

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