It’s possible that every person on this planet gets anxious at some point in their life. Heck, writing a news article can make the most experienced writer in the world very anxious.
Being anxious is normal, but approximately 40 million American adults, roughly 18 percent of the American adult population, are so anxious that they continue to be anxious long after the stressful event that caused the short-term anxiety is gone. These 40 million people are suffering from anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Anxiety disorders last at least six months, the NIMH reports. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, and social anxiety disorders. Fortunately, there are treatments for these anxiety disorders. The treatments include the following:
The NIMH emphasizes that medication cannot cure anxiety disorders, but can “keep them under control.” The medications include antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta blockers. The NIMH is particularly optimistic about relatively new antidepressants called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) because they cause fewer side effects than the antidepressants used in previous years and decades. Prozac and Paxil are SSRIs. Buspirone is one of the newer anti-anxiety medications.
People with anxiety disorders can get better via psychotherapy, which includes talking to mental health professionals who can pinpoint what caused the disorder and can recommend how to cope with the disorder. The NIMH is particularly optimistic about cognitive behavioral therapy, which often includes a program that lasts about three months. “The cognitive part helps people change the thinking patterns that support their fears, and the behavioral part helps people change the way they react to anxiety-provoking situations,” reports the NIMH.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has six phases, according to the National Institutes of Health — psychological assessment, reconceptualization, skills acquisition, training to improve the skills they have acquired, discussions about how patients are going to cope with their disorders once their treatment ends, and post-treatment assessments.
Recent Advances Vs. Anxiety Disorders
The NIMH website regularly updates people on the latest news about anxiety disorders. For example, the NIMH recently funded a study of 39 people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) in an effort to individualize future treatment of SAD patients. The patients had an MRI exam while they looked at angry and neutral faces and scenes. The brain imaging tests concluded that cognitive behavioral therapy was most effective in SAD patients “whose brains reacted strongly to the facial images before treatment.”
The NIMH website also reports that there has been progress in recent years in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. The study of 124 children who are between 7 and 17 years old was particularly important because it showed that relying on just one treatment might not be advisable. The study concluded that 69 percent of the children who were treated with medicine and long-term cognitive-behavioral therapy responded well to treatment, while only 30 percent responded well to a medicine-only program. Curiously, only 34 percent of the children responded well to a program that included medicine plus short- and long-term cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The medicine/cognitive-behavioral therapy program also works better than either of the two treatments separately in children and young adults with all kinds of anxiety disorders, according to a March, 2014 study that was published in the JAMA Psychiatry publication. The study, which followed 288 11- to 26-year-olds for six years, also concluded that long-term therapy was crucial. Children who were effectively treated in the short term were far more likely to have a relapse if the follow-up therapy was inadequate, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researcher Golda Ginsburg reported, according to a Healthline News article.
Another 2014 study reported that medicine might not be necessary at all. The Boston Globe reported that the JAMA Internal Medicine reviewed the results of 47 clinical trials that tested the efficacy of meditation. JAMA concluded that people with mild anxiety who took meditation classes were just as likely to “manage their condition” as people who took anti-anxiety prescription medications. The Globe article specifically mentioned the success of an eight-week program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School that included weekly 150-minute classes in group dialogue, meditation and yoga.
In other 2014 news about anxiety disorders:
* A new company has been formed to commercialize a drug called ketamine that has been effective in treating “severe depression and anxiety” even in small doses, according to the Yale Daily News.
* Teenagers are abusing anti-anxiety medications, according to the medical journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. “When taken as prescribed, these drugs are effective and not dangerous,” medical researcher Carol Boyd said in a news release that was given to Fox News. “The problem is when adolescents use too many of them or mix them with other substances, especially alcohol.”
Treatments for anxiety disorders, particularly many of the newer treatments, can be very effective, but patients still need to follow professional medical advice to ensure that the treatments work as well in everyday life. As one of the very first programs in the country to base its treatment upon Social Integration, our mental health facilities offer help through individualized therapy and group residential programs with a focus towards achieving more independent living.
The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 407-574-5190 for more information.