Unlike purely physical illnesses that can be controlled or cured by inhibiting or producing body chemicals, anxiety disorders require a mix of therapy and medication.
Several forms of psychotherapy are used to treat anxiety disorders. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy identifies cognitive and behavioral patterns responsible for stress and negative tendencies in individuals suffering from anxiety disorders. Once these patterns have been identified, the therapist actively works with patients to change them. Similarly, acceptance and commitment therapy or ACT focuses on awareness of the moment in a non-judgmental manner to relieve stress.
While they can never totally cure anxiety disorders, medications are also helpful in controlling symptoms. Examples of medications that are used to treat anxiety disorders include anti-depressants and selective serotonin uptake inhibitors or SSRI. Because they alter neurochemicals associated with the brain, most anxiety disorder medications have side-effects. For example, SSRIs can cause sexual dysfunction or nausea (during the initial period of consumption). However, controlling dosage or switching to a different form of the same medication may be an effective workaround.
About the Author: Dr. Donald Pirodsky has over four decades of experience in psychiatry, and has been featured in Marquis Who’s Who publications for over 20 years.