It’s important to first sort out what is at the root of an anxiety disorder to put together the most effective treatment package of anxiety therapy and/or medication. There are several typical causes of an anxiety disorder to consider.
Biological factors often factor into an anxiety disorder. Since they are often responsive to medications, it seems there is a brain chemistry element at work. Even more significant is that fact that anxiety disorders seem to run in families, suggesting a genetic factor.
It’s also very important to get a complete physical exam from your doctor to rule out a thyroid imbalance other illnesses that can mimic the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Along with this would be looking at any prescription or vitamins/supplements since there can be interactions or side effects that create feelings of anxiety.
Personality style may also leave a person more prone to the effects of external stressors. Some individuals have a higher sensitivity to stress and their brain and body overload more easily.
Environmental stressors are the other factor in anxiety disorders. Large life traumas, like a car crash, may be easier to see as the trigger that overwhelms a person. However, exposure to long-term low-level stress that can’t be avoided, such as poverty, violence, or high conflict relationships in a home or at work, can also be the catalyst for an anxiety disorder.
Fortunately, anxiety disorders are very responsive to treatment, and the majority of patients receiving help from anxiety therapy and/or medication experience significant relief from their symptoms. Sadly, people with anxiety disorders don’t often seek help. They may not recognize the symptoms as being an anxiety disorder or think that others would judge them. Maybe they even judge themselves thinking they should just get past the symptoms.
In my approach to anxiety therapy, part of the work is on teaching relaxation techniques and skills that help slow down the physiological symptoms of anxiety. When the physiology slows down, the anxious thoughts and feelings usually slow down as well. This helps bring about some peace for a person knowing that they can manage their own symptoms.
Beyond managing symptoms, there may be underlying beliefs or emotional issues to resolve. These may be obvious, like someone freezing up when others yell because it reminds them of the angry parent who used to yell at them. Other times, the anxiety a person feels is actually sadness or anger that has been held inside. Like someone who is sad loosing a loved one but can’t stop laughing when at the funeral, sometimes anxiety is a sign that there is more going on emotionally under the surface. Emotions and unfinished hurts will always find a way to express themselves, and this may look like anxiety. An anxiety therapist can help discern the difference and untangle the emotions to process.
Medication can be an important part of the anxiety therapy treatment package. There are a variety of different types of medication available that work with different symptoms and different people. Please make sure you are seeing a psychiatrist if you plan on taking medication for anxiety. Though any physician can prescribe the medication, a psychiatrist is a specialist in medication for the mind and you’re worth getting the best help available.