The most common mental illness recorded in the United States is anxiety disorders. 40 million adults are diagnosed with anxiety-related mental illness each year, with less than half receiving any form of treatment. Anxiety manifests in a multitude of forms from generalized disorders to social anxiety and stress disorders, with the majority of patients not receiving proper treatment. Attending therapy for anxiety can greatly reduce daily symptoms and improve mental wellness long-term. An effective OCD treatment can also help reduce the impact it has on your life.
Forms of anxiety
Anxiety comes in many forms and thus, is treated in various ways. The most common form of anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder and often presents symptoms of depression as well. Symptoms include:
- Constant, unwarranted worry
- Sensing threat where it does not exist
- Inability to cope with uncertainty
- Indecisiveness and restlessness
- Difficulty focusing / Overthinking
These emotional/mental symptoms are often paired with physical symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aches, insomnia, and irritability. The vicious circle of anxiety begins when psychological and physical symptoms affect one another in an endless loop.
Anxiety is also associated with various mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some patients with OCD feel an overwhelming need for cleanliness, organization, or symmetry. Patients with OCD often perform various repetitive behaviors and respond poorly to changes in routine and the aforementioned needs.
Social anxiety is more than common shyness and may escalate to the level of complete isolation. For some patients with social anxiety, the fear of judgment and embarrassment in social settings can cause a hermetic lifestyle and complete avoidance of new places. Social anxiety, or social phobia, is increasingly present in American society and was recently stated to be the third largest mental health care problem.
Forms of therapy
As various forms of anxiety are unique, treatment plans are specialized in the same manner. Each individual form of anxiety responds differently, as does each individual patient. Finding the right anxiety therapists requires research and recommendations from general physicians who have done initial intake on a patient’s daily symptoms.
For general anxiety disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy is arguably the most common treatment. This particular form of therapy aids patients in recognizing their patterns of thought and creating healthy coping skills to use to restore healthy functioning. Treatment is typically short-term once established coping skills are set into place. From there, therapy sessions are scheduled on an as-needed basis.
For those living with disorders such as OCD, Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) has proven to be most effective. ERP is broken down into two parts:
Exposure to the situations, actions, thoughts, etc that create anxiety and increase OCD tendencies, and Response Prevention in which the patient consciously chooses not to partake in the compulsive behavior that has been triggered.
This particular form of therapy is successful when implemented and supervised by a licensed professional. Over time, this practice will become a habitual process for patients to practice on their own.
Most effective for patients with social anxiety are a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). While medication is commonly prescribed for all aspects of anxiety disorders, behavioral therapies have long-lasting benefits. The appeal of behavioral therapy over medication is in the patient’s ability to implement cognitive coping skills at any moment of symptomatic behaviors.
An example of CBT for social anxiety could be the fear of meeting a new significant other’s family at a large event. The exposure aspect of CBT would be creating achievable goals such as learning a new fact about your partner from each relative you speak to. This action becomes a goal to achieve throughout the course of the night and provides a steady focus for the patient experiencing anxiety.
There are various benefits to seeking therapeutic aid when struggling with anxiety. For most, the ultimate goal of attending therapy is to find ways in which to cope with the anxiety that manifests and interferes throughout their day-to-day lives. Ultimately, the greatest perk of attending therapy is learning coping mechanisms catered specifically to the patient’s unique triggers to ensure long-term success and control over anxiety once and for all.