According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders – that is 18% of the population. However, only 14 million of those people seek treatment every year.
This article is for the 26 million others who are suffering but not receiving professional help. Here is what you need to know about anxiety therapy:
Your feelings are valid.
It is normal and healthy for everyone to experience a certain level of anxiety when taking a big test at school or preparing for a work presentation, but it is not normal to have these feelings take over all other aspects of life as well.
Anxiety disorders can be a result of past or present trauma, genetics, personality, or depression and can look different in different people. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of anxiety such as difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, feeling overwhelmed, headaches, difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, and issues with sleeping, among others. Since these symptoms seem familiar and straight-forward, we often dismiss them or think that we can start to feel better by self-medicating with substances, extra time to ourselves, or buying extravagant things that make us feel better about ourselves. While these things might help us feel better for a few hours, they are not addressing the heart of the problem, so the relief is short-lived and insufficient.
It is crucial to validate and affirm the feelings and symptoms of anxiety in ourselves and our loved ones to realize that something can be done to treat the anxiety long-term, rather than just with the insufficient fixes we have tried.
Therapy is more than just laying on a couch and talking about your feelings.
Put out of your mind the picture of a patient laying on an armless leather couch while the therapist sits nearby with a notepad. With the integration of new technologies into our lives, the world of therapy has broadened its scope as well. Meaning that people seeking treatment for anxiety can correspond with their therapist in the form with which they are most comfortable: in person, in a group setting, over text message/email, or in a video chat.
Just as you can customize your communication method, anxiety therapists can also customize your therapy based on your symptoms and the source(s) of your anxiety. One of the most effective treatment options is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thinking and behavior patterns, allowing you to be more mindful of potentially harmful triggers of your anxiety and how to mentally process an alternative result. Therapists are also finding success with treatments like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, which allows the brain to process traumatic thoughts less distressingly.
Therapy and treatment options are things that you cannot self-diagnose or self-administer, but you can reach out to any of the therapists all across the country to get started on a treatment plan to help you conquer your anxiety.
Receiving therapy can help your overall well-being.
Statistics and studies have shown that individuals suffering from anxiety disorders are more likely to go to the doctor or be hospitalized due to the negative impacts of anxiety on the rest of their body. Through symptoms like exhaustion, heart rate fluctuations, and headaches, the body is essentially telling the person to take a break and give the body a chance to relax, which – if the person does not heed the body’s advice – can lead to the shutting down or improper functioning of different bodily systems.
By addressing the root of the anxiety problem through therapy, the individual is being provided with the tools they need to counteract the toll that anxiety could take on their body by being mindful of their surroundings and what they need to do to be calm instead of anxious in the situation. Stress-management techniques established in therapy could also include things like a consistent exercise routine and a more balanced diet, which – in addition to helping with stress-management – will also improve the health and well-being of the person.
With the help of therapy and a support group, anxiety can lose its power in your life.