Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. Anxiety is a common, yet under recognized problem in our country. It can lead to feelings of depression and social isolation. Many people are not even aware they are suffering with a diagnosable condition. They often feel alone and like there is something wrong with them. Despite so many untreated cases of anxiety, therapeutic treatments have shown success in treating the debilitating symptoms of anxiety.
Sometimes the simple act of knowing that there are others struggling with similar conditions is therapeutic in itself. A large part of the problem of anxiety is the intense feeling of isolation. Surpassing even depression, anxiety is the most common form of mental illness in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 10% of teenagers and 40% of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder of some kind.
Group counseling allows those suffering with anxiety to meet others with similar symptoms. It allows them to share their stories of anxiety and to hear about others struggles. It also allows people to learn of alternative coping techniques and to create lasting relationships with people they can lean on in times of high anxiety. Group counseling may involve symptom sharing, group anxiety reduction exercises, or activities like art and music therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short, is especially successful in treating anxiety symptoms. Much of anxiety is caused from the body?s inability to recognize no danger with real danger. CBT forces the person to question their symptoms and the source of their anxiety. It requires them to consciously attempt to change their breathing patterns. It encourages them to implement stress reduction activities during times of high anxiety, such as art therapy or music therapy. Some forms of CBT may even suggest that the participant wear breathing and heart rate monitoring systems to accurately gauge their physical symptoms of anxiety.
Inpatient mental health care
Although inpatient mental health facilities are generally not needed for anxiety disorders, it is important to note that people with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders. The symptoms of anxiety can affect a person so much, and without proper treatment of these symptoms, can lead to other psychiatric illnesses, including depression.
Exposure therapy is somewhat less practiced, but is still considered to be a successful model for some types of anxiety. Anxiety can lead to a fear of places where symptoms are higher. The idea of exposure therapy is that is encourages the person to expose themselves to the feared place, in hopes of seeing that there is really nothing to be feared. Exposure therapy should only be practiced with professionals familiar with the therapy, such as a doctor at a neuropsychiatric hospital.
Exercise and arts therapy
Anxiety is usually a response to a feared place or stimuli. Exercise and different forms of art therapy, such as art therapy, allow the person to transfer their energy and attention to something else. For example, the constant motion of art therapy can relieve the thought patterns that are associated with a feared place. It can also self soothe the body, calming the breathing and the heart rate of the body. Art therapy and music therapy have shown to be successful in other illnesses in addition to anxiety, such as Alzheimers disease.
The increased breathing and heart rate that accompanies anxiety and panic attacks can make a person feel like they are dying. It can affect the places they go, the people they spend time with, and the overall quality of their life. A high percentage of people dealing with anxiety suffer alone, not realizing there are effective treatments available. Treatments such as CBT, art therapy, and exposure therapy can all significantly reduce the life changing symptoms of anxiety.