The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that some 40 million adult Americans suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder. Whether it’s mild, situational anxiety (like the nerves that come up from a stressful job search) or something more deeply rooted in the unconscious, it’s important to remember that with the right tools, anxiety can be managed.
Unlike some ailments or problems, anxiety isn’t a one-cause-fits-all case. What causes anxiety in one person is not likely to be the same thing that causes anxiety in someone else. How, then, can anxiety be managed and treated?
Here are some of the most common tools used to treat anxiety disorders.
Lessen symptoms with medication
Like many medical ailments, anxiety can be treated with a number of prescription drugs. The most common anxiety medications fall under the classification of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications are often considered antidepressants, but depending on the dosage, SSRIs can treat a variety of illnesses, from depression and anxiety to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) estimating that 1 in 10 Americans take antidepressants, making them the most commonly used medication for adults age 18 to 44.
While prescriptions can help alleviate symptoms, the ADAA recommends using medication in conjunction with therapy. Dr. Ronald D. Sager, the medical director at Balance Treatment Center in Calabasas, says that, while prescribing a medication may be the first option many doctors take (and the first option patients jump at), the most successful treatment of anxiety comes from to the root problem.
Therapy and coping skills
For those with more than just occasional, situational anxiety, therapy can help diagnose the source of your anxiety. Coping skills, like recognizing your anxious thoughts and battling against them, or daily exercises like deep breathing and positive thinking are all things that can be used to combat anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the more common therapy routes, where patients learn to practice mindfulness.
Fast-acting medication that can habit-forming
For those experiencing extreme levels of anxiety that manifests in things like panic attacks, treatments other than therapy or antidepressants may be necessary. If you’re looking for short-term relief of acute anxiety, faster-acting medications from the benzodiazepine family may be an option, says Dr. Sager. However, these faster-acting medications can be highly addictive, they should only be used under close observation by medical professional.
Sometimes, extreme anxiety levels can drive people to negative coping behaviors such as seeking solace in alcohol or drugs. While these behaviors may offer some short-term relief, they are not a cure for anxiety, and can further damage mental health through substance abuse.
A balanced approach
At Balance Treatment Center, Dr. Sager and his staff believe in a more balanced approach to treating anxiety. Medication or therapy alone can only alleviate symptoms to a degree, Dr. Sager says – but with a treatment plan that includes both therapy and the wise prescription of medication, it’s possible to achieve even greater outcomes.
“We are about more than just the immediate elimination of symptoms,” Sager says. “We really try to understand what’s causing the anxiety since it’s not a singular topic. Not everyone that has anxiety has it for the same reason.”
With both a fully licensed primary mental health residential center in Calabasas and intensive outpatient programs in both Calabasas and San Luis Obispo, the Balance team is committed to helping alleviate patients’ symptoms while also isolating and trying to resolve the conflicts that cause anxiety to occur. The team believes it’s important to open a dialogue and engage with family members of those suffering. By working together with other professionals in the industry to share innovations and collaborate on ideas, Balance continues the work to end the stigma of mental illness.
For more information, visit them online at BalanceTreatment.com or give them a call at (855) 414-8100.