Facing Your Fears: 5 Therapies for Anxiety Disorder

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Forty million Americans have anxiety disorder, says the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, with excessive fears or worries that paralyze their lives. If you think you’re among them, you may be reassured to know that there are several ways to manage your anxiety. In some cases, your doctor may recommend medicines for anxiety. For many people, a combination of medicine and other therapies works best. 

Stress management techniques, including guided imagery or meditation, can help you calm yourself and keep fears from escalating.

Here are five ways (other than medication) to face your fears and reduce their power in your life:

    1. Talk Therapy: Also called psychotherapy, talk therapy is a way of talking through your anxiety and fear with a trained professional. It may be uncomfortable at first, but facing your fears with someone who can support and guide you helps you move beyond those fears to live more fully. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a specific type of therapy in which you train your mind to think differently about your fears. This can lead to reducing your reactions to situations that cause you anxiety and creating new behaviors to overcome excessive worry, fear or panic. It may include techniques for relaxing or practicing social skills.

You may work with a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker on identifying, challenging and neutralizing unhelpful thoughts that are the foundation of your disorder. Your mental health provider may also encourage you to engage in activities you have been avoiding. 

Usually, talk therapy is conducted one on one, but it can be helpful to talk in groups, especially if you have anxieties focused on being around other people. 

    2. Self-Help or Support Groups: Consider joining a self-help or support group and sharing your problems, stresses and achievements with others. This can be especially helpful if a trained expert facilitates the group. You may like the idea of an internet chat room, but be cautious about any advice you receive from people you don’t really know. Talking with a trusted friend or church leader may be helpful, although they should not be a substitute for a trained professional.

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    3. Stress Management Strategies: Stress management techniques, including guided imagery or meditation, can help you calm yourself and keep fears from escalating. Breathing exercises or physical activity such as walking also may calm you. 

    4. Yoga: This complementary therapy can vary from instructor to instructor, but it commonly includes physical stretching and balancing postures, breathing exercises and meditation. Its underlying philosophy of personal peace and calm provides some relief for many people with anxiety.

    5. Acupuncture: Evidence is becoming stronger that acupuncture is helpful in treating anxiety disorders. The traditional Chinese practice requires inserting hair-thin needles into the body at specific points to open blockages to the body's energy flow.

Read more tips to help calm your body and mind.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

Small Steps: Take a Stress Time-Out
Break the cycle of stressful feelings by taking a walk to reset your frame of mind.