Anxiety treatment, whats best for you?
To help them decide the best treatment for your anxiety, our doctors need to explore the problem and understand the impact it’s having on your life.
In many cases, people will benefit from talking about their anxiety. You can get practical advice that will help whenever your symptoms disrupt your routine. If this doesn’t work, or if your anxiety symptoms are severe, our doctors can also prescribe the most effective medication for you.
Lots of people find that talking to someone about their anxiety helps. Our doctors will listen to you, offer advice and suggest ways you can treat your anxiety problems in the long-term.
They may suggest you attend self-help groups to share your experiences with other people. Sometimes just knowing you’re not suffering alone is enough to help you work through anxiety issues.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
If our doctors decide regular professional help is more appropriate, they can refer you to a mental health specialist. Frequently used talking therapies include counselling and CBT.
CBT is designed to help you build a way to look after yourself when anxiety symptoms occur. Your therapist will talk about how you respond in certain situations and show you how to train your brain to respond differently.
You’ll usually meet for an hourly session once a week for as long as your therapist feels it’s necessary. Patients with anxiety typically undergo CBT for around three to four weeks (or six to eight sessions).
Your therapist won’t tell you what to do. They can’t be with you all the time and it’s not always practical to avoid anxiety triggers, such as certain social situations.
Instead, the sessions will teach you how to change the way you respond to these potential triggers and create a coping strategy to keep your symptoms under control.
Medication for anxiety
Our doctors are also able to prescribe antidepressants or beta blockers and other appropriate medication to treat your anxiety.
There are many different anxiety medications available, so they will use the information you’ve provided about symptoms, triggers and causes to decide which medication is best for you.
They may decide medication is the best option if talking therapy hasn’t helped, or if your anxiety is severe. The cause of your anxiety will also affect their decision - for example, if your anxiety is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain, they may prescribe medication to correct this straight away.
In some cases, you may be prescribed medication alongside talking therapy sessions.
Before you’re prescribed anything, the doctor will discuss your options and outline:
- What the medicine will do
- How long you’ll need to take it
- Any potential side effects and what you should do if you notice any
Taking your medication
If you’re given a prescription, it’s very important that you take the medicine exactly as instructed by your doctor.
You should never exceed the recommended dose. If you accidentally miss a dose, never take a double dose to make up for it, as this could be dangerous.
You shouldn’t stop taking your medication until your doctor tells you to, even if you feel better. Stopping suddenly can mean your symptoms come back, so continue taking the medication as instructed at all times.
The doctor may suggest a follow-up appointment in one or two weeks to see if your medication is having the desired effect.
How to deal with Anxiety Attacks
One of the biggest factors in beating anxiety attacks is to relax, but of course this is easier said than done!
While your treatment can help with your anxiety, if you’ve been having panic attacks, it may help to create a specific coping strategy. This can make an attack less likely and make sure you know what to do if it does happen.
You can tailor your strategy around your anxiety triggers, so you’ll know exactly how to respond in any given situation.
Techniques you learn from your CBT sessions or other talking therapies can help. These are designed to fight the symptoms of an anxiety attack.
Relaxation techniques can also help you keep control of your breathing, slow your heart rate down and stop your muscles tensing up, easing your symptoms.