Approximately 40 million men and women in the United States seek treatment for a variety of anxiety disorders every year. These individuals suffer with debilitating levels of fear and anxiety on a regular basis.

Whether they are given prescription medication, get involved with psychotherapy and counseling, or adopt a number of practices they can do at home to deal with the issues, some effort is required to overcome the anxiety feelings and symptoms.

Before deciding on appropriate course of treatment, individuals and their physicians must determine what is anxiety and how does it affect the individual patient. Anxiety disorder is a mental illness with sufferers who experience drastic and long-lasting feelings of fear and anxiousness that interfere with their quality of life. People with this disorder experience more than the normal amounts of nerves everyone feels when faced with a test or new experience. It becomes all-pervasive and damaging and can manifest as social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder and even panic disorder and specific phobias.

Psychiatric Medications Used for Anxiety Disorders

Prescription medication is commonly used to treat anxiety. Depending on the type and severity of the disorder, different medications will be prescribed by the patient’s physician or psychiatrist. Some of the most common types include antidepressants, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax, SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft, tranquilizers and even some anticonvulsant medications.

Combinations of medicines are often used under direction of the patient’s doctor in order to achieve the greatest quality of life possible. Beta blockers, for example, are often used for social anxiety disorder, while benzodiazepines are often used to treat phobias. Patients must work closely with their doctor and maintain compliance with all prescriptions and medication directives in order to affect change in their condition.

Useful Psychotherapy and Counseling Techniques

Medication alone cannot provide the best results and is often combined with psychiatric treatment and counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy is popular for individuals with generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder, phobias and panic disorder. This method seeks to reorganize the patient’s thinking so they are better able to recognize a panic attack, for example, and not built on the fear that it is actually a life-threatening event. Patients are often guided to face their fears and learn new methods for dealing with them.

Other types of talk therapy can help people with anxiety issues learn about how to overcome the problems that affect their life every day. It is possible to determine if the phobia, social anxiety or panic disorder was triggered by a traumatic event in the past that can be discussed and dealt with. These therapists also help patients formulate coping mechanisms and change reactions to anxiety events to reduce the negative effects on their lives.

Self-help for Anxiety Issues

While it is important to get professional help for the various types of anxiety and panic disorders, there is much the patient can do to help alleviate symptoms and make the medication and therapy more effective. Maintaining a high quality of health by eating healthy, fresh foods, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and chocolate and quitting smoking tobacco or marijuana or taking any illegal drugs. Exercise is also helpful. Appropriate levels of sleep, usually recommended as eight hours per night, can definitely help reduce symptoms of anxiety.

What is anxiety? This first question asked when a sufferer is diagnosed has a multitude of answers that should be answered by a professional. Sometimes the root cause cannot be determined and behavioral therapy can simply help change how the illness is managed throughout life. Mental illness such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorders and phobias can get better with the correct combination of prescription medicine, cognitive and behavioral therapy and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. It takes a combined effort of physician, psychiatrist and patient to handle the negative symptoms of the various anxiety disorders so the ones who suffer from them can lead happy, productive lives.