Many people who experience an anxiety disorder think that they should just be able to ‘get over it’ on their own. Others may need time to recognize how deeply anxiety affects their life. However, anxiety disorders are real illnesses that affect a person’s well-being. It’s important to talk to a doctor about mental health concerns. Some physical health conditions cause symptoms of anxiety. A doctor will look at all possible causes of anxiety.
Normal, expected anxiety is part of being human. Treatment should look at reducing unhelpful coping strategies and building healthy behaviours that help you better manage anxiety.
Each anxiety disorder has its own specific treatments and goals, but most include some combination of the following strategies:
An effective form of counselling for anxiety is cognitive-behavioural therapy (or ‘CBT’). CBT teaches you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours work together. A goal of CBT is to identify and change the unhelpful patterns of thinking that feed anxious thoughts. CBT can help you identify problem behaviours and replace them with helpful strategies. It’s often the first treatment to try for mild or moderate problems with anxiety.
Some people also find antianxiety or antidepressant medication helpful. Medication can help with the physical feelings of anxiety. It may also make anxious thoughts less frequent or intense, so it can be easier to learn helpful coping strategies. Some people take medication until their anxiety is controlled enough to try therapies like CBT.
Support groups?in person or online?may be a good place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand.
Many different skills can help people manage anxiety, such as stress management, problem-solving, and relaxation. Mindfulness?developing awareness of the present moment without judgement?may also help. Practices that support wellness, such as eating well, exercising, having fun, and connecting with others, are also important.
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