Anxiety disorders are debilitating by definition, but there are a wide range of treatment options that can help! Usually, anxiety disorders are treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. The most common anti-anxiety medications are known as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines, like Klonopin and Xanax, help ease feelings of anxiety in the short-term. Aside from anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressants like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft can be used to treat anxiety disorders. Finally, a type of heart medication called beta-blockers may help treat the physical symptoms of anxiety. All three types of prescription drugs usually work best when combined with some form of psychotherapy. One common psychotherapy technique, cognitive therapy, helps a sufferer change the thinking that leads to anxiety. During cognitive therapy, a patient with social phobia may work on seeing social situations in a more positive way or, a person with generalized anxiety disorder might learn that his or her intense worries are disproportionate to reality. On the other hand, behavioral psychotherapy helps people alter the way they react to anxiety-inducing situations. That might mean repeat exposure to dirt for a person with germ-phobic OCD or it could involve deep breathing exercises for a person prone to panic attacks. These two types of psychotherapy are often combined in an approach known as cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. Sometimes, a psychologist will add a hypnotherapy component to any psychological treatment. While in a heightened, hypnotic state, an individual may be more receptive to discussion and suggestion. Hypnotherapy is one of several alternative therapies, which may help treat an anxiety disorder. Alternative therapies refer to treatments that are not necessarily backed by scientific trials, but which may have value to a patient nonetheless. Other non-Western therapies include acupuncture, which involves inserting thin needles in specific parts of the body and taking herbal supplements, like valerian or St. John's wort. However, any and all treatment options should be discussed with your doctor. So if you, or someone you love, is suffering from severe anxiety, talk to a medical professional!
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012