Medications, specific types of psychotherapy, or a combination of both can all be used to treat anxiety. It can take time to see results, so give it a fair chance before giving up or switching to a different option. Also, some medications used for anxiety must be tapered off slowly under your doctor's guidance and should not be stopped abruptly.
Effective treatment for anxiety has been developed for each of the different anxiety disorders. In general, two types of treatment are available for an anxiety disorder:
- Specific types of psychotherapy (sometimes called "talk therapy").
Both types of treatment can be effective for most disorders. The choice of one or the other, or both, depends on the person's and the doctor's preference and also on the particular anxiety disorder. For example, only psychotherapy has been found effective for treating specific phobias.
When choosing a therapist for anxiety treatment, you should find out whether medications will be available if needed.
Before treatment for anxiety can begin, the doctor must conduct a careful evaluation to determine:
- Whether your symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder
- Which anxiety disorder(s) you may have
- What other conditions may be present.
Anxiety disorders are not all treated the same, and it is important to determine the specific problem before embarking on a course of treatment. Sometimes, alcoholism or some other coexisting condition will have such an impact that it is necessary to treat it at the same time or before treating the anxiety disorder.
If you have been treated previously for an anxiety disorder, be prepared to tell the doctor what treatment you tried. If it was a medication, what was the dosage, was it gradually increased, and how long did you take it? If you had psychotherapy, what kind was it, and how often did you attend sessions?
Some people who undergo anxiety treatment believe they have "failed" the treatment or that the treatment has failed them, when, in fact, it was never given an adequate chance.
When you undergo treatment for anxiety, you and your doctor or therapist will be working together as a team. Together, you will attempt to find the approach that is best for you. If one treatment doesn't work, the odds are good that another one will. And new treatments are continually being developed through research. So don't give up hope.