So, you're officially diagnosed with Anxiety.
Being the most common mental health disorder in the United States, you are definitely not alone. With this new discovery, the tension and stress that lives inside of your every-day activities is now elevated - you're feeling anxious about figuring out how to treat the anxiousness! Your therapist will always help you follow the right route to treatment, but sometimes it's hard to agree to something without understanding the options first. When you can see everything laid out and understand what to expect, it can make the therapy journey a lot less stress-inducing.
There are six common types of therapy utilized to address Anxiety - the most common of which is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Depending on the type of anxiety that you are suffering as well as the severity of your symptoms, your therapist may utilize other therapy practices, such as exposure therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), or interpersonal therapy (IPT).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most common type of therapy for treating any version of an anxiety disorder. This is due to the fact that CBT therapy revolves around the ideology that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all linked - and that a change in one, will reflect a change in the others. CBT therapy teaches patients the skills needed to interrupt and change negative thoughts or behavioral patterns that promote their mental health problems. If you can adjust the way that you think when you start to feel overwhelmingly anxious, you can help your body and brain calm back down.
Exposure Therapy is a form of CBT that is specifically directed towards overcoming fears. Your therapist works closely with you to provide short term exposures to the object triggering your fears, to slowly build up a tolerance in your day to day life. It teaches coping skills and introduces new thought patterns into your brain, by forcing it to learn how to overcome the triggering responses brought on by your fears. Exposure therapy can be done via images (looking at photos of your fears), real-life encounters, and VR encounters.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT is another form of anxiety therapy that can help rewire the way your brain thinks about stressful situations. With ACT, the idea is that pain and suffering are unavoidable, natural aspects of life. Instead of trying to control or avoid those feelings, ACT therapy promotes intentionally leaving space to feel those feelings, process them, and move on. It utilizes mindfulness and behavioral strategies to remind yourself to give yourself the freedom to emote fully, and by fully feeling those emotions you can process them!
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a form of CBT that revolves around understanding how the world around you influences you. Essentially, that changes in one aspect of your life will affect all other aspects, and that the environment around you does have an effect on the growth of your central nervous system - and therefore your emotions. It is about accepting feelings and thoughts that seem opposite (accepting you have anxiety in the first place, so that you can work to improve the symptoms of said anxiety), and processing through them safely. It utilizes mindfulness, increased distress tolerance, interpersonal skills and increased emotional regulation to provide anxiety management in your day to day life.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR utilizes the brain's natural healing process to help patients reprocess traumatic life events and overcome their nature. Your therapist will guide you through a bilateral simulation of your brain processing using specific eye movements, tapping, or even audio tones to help reprocess memories and decrease the overall mental and physical stress associated with them. This can do wonders for patients suffering from anxiety related to traumatic experiences, and patients suffering from phobias.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy specifically revolves around how the patient exists in their lives, and in the world around them. Traditionally, this form of therapy is used to target specific relationship issues, conflict with friends or family, or even struggles with social settings/employment relationships. Often times, your interpersonal relationships can have a very serious effect on the rest of your mental health. IPT shifts the blame from the patient displaying negative symptoms, to the diagnosis itself. You aren't the problem, your unresolved anxiety symptoms are the problem.
With anxiety disorders affecting over 40 million adults in the US (264 Million globally), it is no surprise that therapy practices revolving around anxiety are very common, and have had the extensive research done to prove they work. If you have recently been diagnosed with Anxiety, feel free to reach out to your therapist and ask them which therapy path is right for you! They will always be able to point you in the right direction, and help lead you to a life of better mental health.