Anxiety Relief Techniques

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Treatment for anxiety disorders
In general, anxiety disorders are treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy, or both. Treatment choices depend on the problem and the preference of the person. Before starting treatment, a doctor must conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine whether a person's symptoms are caused by an anxiety disorder or a physical problem. If diagnosed an anxiety disorder, the type of disorder or the combination of these disorders are identified, as well as any coexisting conditions such as depression or substance abuse. Sometimes alcoholism, depression or other coexisting conditions have such a strong effect on the individual that treating the anxiety disorder must wait until the coexisting conditions are under control.

People with anxiety disorders who have already received treatment should tell in detail their current doctor about that treatment. If they received medication, they should tell their doctor what medication was used, what the dosage was at the beginning of treatment if the dose was increased or decreased during the treatment, what side effects occurred and whether the treatment helped them to reduce anxiety. If they received psychotherapy, they should describe the type of therapy, how often they attended sessions, and if the therapy was useful.

Often people think they have "failed" at treatment or that treatment did not work when, in reality, it was not given an adequate period of time or was administered incorrectly. Sometimes people must try several different treatments or combinations thereof, before they find one that works for them.

Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but can keep them under control while the person receives psychotherapy. The medication must be prescribed by physicians, usually psychiatrists, who can offer psychotherapy themselves or work together with psychologists, social workers or counselors who provide psychotherapy. The principal medications used for anxiety disorders are antidepressants, antianxiety medications (pills for anxiety / nerves), and beta blockers to control some of the physical symptoms. With proper treatment, many people with anxiety disorders can live normal, fulfilling lives.

Antidepressants were developed to treat depression, but are also effective for anxiety disorders. Although these medications begin to alter brain chemistry after the first dose, their full effect requires a series of changes occur, usually taking 4 to 6 weeks before symptoms start to fade. It is important to continue taking these medications long enough to let them work.

Selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake
Some of the newest antidepressants are called selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs alter the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which, like other neurotransmitters, helps brain cells communicate with each other.

Fluoxetine (Prozac ), sertraline (Zoloft ), escitalopram (Lexapro ), paroxetine (Paxil ), citalopram (Celexa ) are some of the inhibitors selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors commonly prescribed for panic disorder , OCD, PTSD, and social phobia. Selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake are also used to treat panic disorder when it occurs in combination with OCD, social phobia, or depression. Venlafaxine (Effexor ), a drug closely related to selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake, is used to treat GAD. These medications are started at low doses and gradually increased until a beneficial effect.

Selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake have fewer side effects than older antidepressants, but they sometimes produce slight nausea or jitters when people start taking them. These symptoms fade with time. Some people also experience sexual dysfunction with selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake, which can be corrected by adjusting the dose or switching to another selective inhibitor of serotonin reuptake.

Tricyclics are older than the selective inhibitors of serotonin and work as well as selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake inhibitors for anxiety disorders other than OCD. Also started at low doses and gradually increase. They sometimes cause dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, weight gain, which can usually be corrected by changing the dosage or switching to another tricyclic medication.

Tricyclics include imipramine (Tofranil ), which is prescribed for panic disorder and GAD and clomipramine (Anafranil ), which is the only tricyclic antidepressant useful for the treatment of OCD.

The monoamine oxidase
The monoamine oxidase inhibitors are the oldest class of antidepressant medications. The monoamine oxidase that is commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders are phenelzine (Nardil ), followed by tranylcypromine (Parnate ), isocarboxazid (Marplan ), which are used to treat the disorder panic and social phobia. People taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors can not eat certain foods and beverages (including cheese and red wine) that contain tyramine or take certain medications, including some types of birth control pills, painkillers (such as Advil , Motrin or Tylenol ), medicines for colds and allergies, and certain herbal supplements, these substances may interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors to cause dangerous increases in blood pressure. The development of a new skin patch of monoamine oxidase can help reduce these risks. The monoamine oxidase inhibitors can also react with selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake and cause a serious condition called "serotonin syndrome", which can cause confusion, hallucinations, increased sweating, muscle stiffness, seizures, changes in blood pressure or heart rate, and other potentially fatal diseases.

Anti-anxiety drugs
Potency benzodiazepines combat anxiety and have few side effects except for somnolence (sleepiness). Because people can get used to them and may need higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect, benzodiazepines are generally prescribed for short periods of time, especially for people who have abused drugs or alcohol or is easily become dependent on medication. An exception to this rule are people with panic disorder, who can take benzodiazepines for up to a year without damage.

Clonazepam (Klonopin ) is used for social phobia and GAD, lorazepam (Ativan ) is used for panic disorder, and alprazolam (Xanax ) is used for both panic disorder to GAD.

Some people may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking benzodiazepines abruptly instead of tapering off and anxiety can return once the medication is stopped. These potential problems have led some physicians to avoid using these drugs or use them in inadequate doses.

Buspirone (Buspar ), a azapirone is a newer anti-anxiety medication used to treat GAD. Possible side effects include dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Unlike benzodiazepines, buspirone must be taken consistently for at least two weeks to achieve an anxiolytic effect.

Beta blockers
Beta blockers such as propranolol (Inderal ), used to treat heart conditions, can prevent the physical symptoms that accompany certain anxiety disorders, particularly social phobia. When you can predict a scary situation (such as giving a speech), a doctor may prescribe a beta blocker to keep under control the physical symptoms of anxiety.

Taking Drugs
Before taking a medication for an anxiety disorder:

Ask your doctor to tell you about the effects and side effects of medication.
& Tell your doctor about any alternative therapies or medicines you are using that are not prescribed by a doctor.
& Ask your doctor when and how to end the drug. Some medications can not be stopped abruptly but should be gradually reduced under the supervision of a physician.
& Work with your doctor to determine what treatment is right for you and what dose is appropriate.
& Note that some drugs are only effective if taken regularly and that symptoms may recur if the medication is stopped.
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Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained mental health, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or counselor, to discover what caused an anxiety disorder and how to manage their symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is useful for the treatment of anxiety disorders. The cognitive part helps people change thinking patterns that lead to their fears, and the behavioral part helps people change the way they react to situations that provoke anxiety.

For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people with panic disorder learn that their panic attacks are not really heart attacks and can help people with social phobia learn to overcome the belief that other people are watching and judging the time. When people are ready to confront their fears, they are shown how to use exposure techniques to desensitize themselves to situations that trigger their anxieties.

People with OCD who fear dirt and germs are encouraged to get their hands dirty and wait increasing amounts of time before washing them. The therapist helps the person cope with the anxiety that waiting produces; after the exercise has been repeated several times, the anxiety diminishes. People with social phobia may be encouraged to spend time in feared social situations without being tempted to flee and to make small social blunders and observe how people respond to them. Because the response is usually far less harsh than the person fears, these anxieties are lessened. People with PTSD may be supported through recalling their traumatic event in a safe situation, which helps reduce the fear it produces. Therapists cognitive-behavioral therapy also teach deep breathing and other exercises to relieve anxiety and promote relaxation.

Behavioral therapy based on exposure has been used for several years for the treatment of specific phobias. Gradually, the person encounters the object or situation that is feared, at first, perhaps only through pictures or tapes, and then face to face. Often the therapist will accompany the person to a feared situation to provide support and guidance.

The CBT is undertaken when people decide they are ready for it and with their permission and cooperation. To be effective, therapy should be directed to the person's specific anxieties and must be tailored to your needs. No side effects other than the discomfort of temporarily increased anxiety.

Often, behavioral or cognitive-behavioral therapy lasts 12 weeks. It can be conducted individually or in groups with people with similar problems. Group therapy is particularly effective in the case of social phobia. Often, between sessions, assign "homework" for participants. There is some evidence that the benefits of CBT last longer than those of medication for people with panic disorder, and the same may be true for OCD, PTSD, and social phobia. If a disorder recurs at a later, the same therapy can be used to treat it successfully a second time.

Medication can be combined with psychotherapy for specific anxiety disorders and this is the best treatment approach for many people. Click here for more anxiety relief techniques.

Getting Help for Anxiety Disorders
If you think you have an anxiety disorder, the first person you should consult is your family doctor. A doctor can determine if the symptoms that alarm you are due to an anxiety disorder, another medical condition, or both.

If diagnosed an anxiety disorder, usually the next step is to consult a mental health professional. Physicians may be more useful for anxiety disorders are those who have had training in cognitive-behavioral therapy and / or behavioral therapy, and are willing to use medication if necessary.

You should feel comfortable talking with the mental health professional you choose. If not, you should seek help elsewhere. Once you find a mental health professional with whom you feel comfortable, you two should work together as a team and make a plan to treat your anxiety disorder.

Remember that once you start your medication, it is important not to interrupt abruptly. Certain medications should be reduced gradually under the supervision of a physician or otherwise negative reactions may occur. Be sure to talk with the doctor who prescribed your medication before stopping. If you are having problems with side effects, it is possible that these can be eliminated by adjusting the amount of medication you take and when to take it.

Most insurance plans, including organizations of health maintenance, will cover the treatment of anxiety disorders. Check with your insurance company and determine what this covers. If you are uninsured, the Division of Health and Human Services in your county government may offer mental health care center in a public mental health, which he charges people according to what you can afford. If you are on public assistance, can obtain care through your state Medicaid plan.

If you don't want to take strong prescription meds, and would like to try a more natural alternative anxiety relief technique, check out a method called Panic Away.


           A detailed free booklet from the US government that describes the symptoms, causes, and treatments of the major anxiety disorders, with information on getting help and coping, can be gotten here...

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