If you live with anxiety, then you’ve likely grown tired of all the typical advice to just stop worrying or try yoga. Anxiety, when it manifests as a mental health condition, is much deeper than a bad case of nerves. Anxiety disorders consume your daily life, overwhelming your thoughts, making you feel physically unstable and constantly question the validity of your own feelings. It’s exhausting, but it doesn’t have to last forever. There are many treatment options available to help individuals with anxiety find relief.
For some people who have already tried therapy to no avail, please reconsider the potential of finding a better match. It’s unfortunate but true that the first time is not always a charm. You can find the wrong therapist, and they can even make you feel worse about your anxiety. But there are also many compassionate counselors who specialize in treating this condition, and you can look for them online or access them through virtual therapy services.
Let’s talk about four potential treatments you may want to explore with your GP or therapist. Remember that you should reach out for professional help in addition to your own self-care. While the goal is to eventually have your symptoms entirely manageable by yourself, treating your experience like the valid health problem it is can be an important step in recovery.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
As one of the most effective evidence-based treatments for anxiety and depression, CBT is worth exploring. The best part is that it prepares you to manage your symptoms on your own and feel empowered in preventing relapse. The truth is that many symptoms never fully resolve. There may always be instincts and impulses that you struggle with, but you can learn to address your thoughts from a more adaptive perspective. You also learn through CBT that your actions and thoughts are closely connected, but you always have the power to reshape them and choose the healthier option. The more you do this, the more you reinforce desirable outcomes in your anxiety.
There is no general consensus on the necessity of prescription medication. Everyone is different, and you should only take medication if you genuinely feel comfortable trying them. You are not obligated to take them, and you’re not doomed to suffer forever if you chose not to. There are other options available. That being said, they can be useful in recovery if supported by additional therapies. Prescription beta-blockers can help curb the physical symptoms such as shaking hands and a racing heart. The propranolol suppresses adrenaline, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response. You should only take these with a prescription from a professional and never attempt to self-medicate with any type of prescription or over-the-counter drug.
CBT focuses largely on identifying and modifying unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. The mindfulness component of MBCBT helps you become more accepting of yourself and the present no matter what you’re feeling. One of the reasons anxiety can be so debilitating is that you are always actively fighting it. This raises stress levels and causes you to feel worse in the moment. Instead, you can learn to reshape your thoughts and feelings about yourself and your condition. Mindfulness and meditation are two extremely powerful tools, though they have to be put into practice routinely. Expecting to have a life transformation after one 10-minute meditation session isn’t realistic. Rather than always feeling immensely better, think about these practices as having a cumulative effect. The more you use them, the more noticeable their impact.
Self-Guided Lifestyle Changes
No matter how good a counselor is, there is only so much they can do to help change your life. At the end of the day, that responsibility falls on you. Lifestyle changes are necessary to help you avoid triggers and feel more capable of coping when they do arise. The three most important areas to address are exercise, diet and media consumption. The first two care for your physical body. Nourishing the brain is just as important as nurturing the mind. That’s why limiting exposure to distressing content is so important. Reading the news less, being conscious of your social media use and avoiding excessively violent or stressful games, shows and movies can have a major impact on how you feel.