Tag Archives: Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders and Their Treatment

After graduating with an MD from the State University of New York at Syracuse and completing residencies in psychiatry, Dr. Donald Pirodsky maintained private practices in psychiatry in Syracuse and Fayetteville, New York, for over 30 years. Dr. Donald Pirodsky has a broad range of professional interests, including the outpatient psychiatric treatment of patients with anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders are characterized by long periods of excessive and irrational fear and dread. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 40 million Americans are affected by anxiety disorders annually. Anxiety disorders are frequently associated with physical illnesses or other mental health issues, such as alcohol and substance abuse. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias. Social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder also fall into this category. Panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder are other forms of anxiety disorders.

Before determining a line of treatment, physicians will conduct an extensive diagnostic evaluation to determine the type of disorder as well as any coexisting conditions. If doctors identify a substance-abuse coexisting condition, clinicians will first treat this condition before addressing the anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are typically treated with medication or psychotherapy or both. Sometimes, individuals must try various types of treatment before they discover the form that best addresses their problems.

Many individuals with anxiety disorders can lead normal lives with medication. Psychiatrists most commonly prescribe anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants, as well as beta-blockers to control physical symptoms.

Individuals with anxiety disorders engage in psychotherapy with psychiatrists or other mental health professionals to explore the roots of their problem and how to address symptoms. Clinicians have found cognitive behavioral therapy to be especially effective in treating anxiety disorders. This form of therapy helps patients change thinking patterns that serve as a foundation of their fears, and it guides them in learning new ways to react to anxiety-provoking situations.

Research findings indicate that alternative health strategies are also effective in treating anxiety disorders. These include relaxation techniques as well as yoga. Acupuncture and herbal treatments, such as kava, have also been shown to be beneficial for some individuals.


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Treating Anxiety Disorders, by Dr. Donald Pirodsky

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.

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