Treatments for Anxiety

Anxiety

In this article we’ll look at the evidence-based treatments for anxiety that a doctor may offer.

Treatments for Anxiety

Anxiety is, unfortunately, a normal part of life. We may all be affected by anxiety in different ways and at different times. If you haven’t already, check out our articles ‘What Is Anxiety?’ and ‘Self-Managing Anxiety’. There you’ll find more information on the causes and symptoms of anxiety along with some tips for self-managing your anxiety.

Below, we’ll look at the various evidence-based treatments that can help with anxiety. These treatments can be accessed by talking with your doctor about how you are feeling. They will then be able to advise what will be best for you.

Self-help resources

The first treatment that your doctor my offer you is a self-help resource. Self-help resources are available quite quickly and may help you to manage your anxiety without needing other treatments. You might be given a resource to work through on your own, or one to do on a course with others experiencing similar issues.

These self-help resources could be delivered through workbooks or a computer-based CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) programme.

You can find out more about self-help workbooks on the Reading Well website and there are several app-based CBT course recommended on the NHS apps library.

Talking therapy

Sometimes, self-help resources may be unlikely to help your anxiety, or you may try them and not feel better. If this is the case, your doctor may offer you a talking based treatment. There are two types of talking treatments that are recommended for anxiety:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) focusses on how your thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour. CBT also teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.
  • Applied Relaxation Therapy involves learning how to relax your muscles in situations where you normally experience anxiety.

Medication

Your doctor may offer you a prescription to help manage some symptoms of anxiety. Some people find that medication paired with talking therapy is helpful. Medication shouldn’t be the only thing you are offered.

There are a few different types of medication that you might be offered.

Antidepressants

There are 2 main types of antidepressant: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) and tricyclic antidepressants. Usually, you will be offered an SSRI first, but these can sometimes cause side effects like sleeping problems or feeling more anxious than before. If SSRI’s don’t work or aren’t suitable you may be offered a tricyclic antidepressant.

Pregabalin

Depending on your situation your doctor may decide to prescribe Pregabalin. This is an antiseizure drug normally used to treat epilepsy. However, it is also licenced to treat anxiety.

Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers are sometimes used to treat the physical symptoms of anxiety, including rapid heartbeat, palpitations, and tremors (shaking). Beta-blockers are not psychiatric drugs so they don’t reduce any of the psychological symptoms, but they may be helpful in certain situations.

Benzodiazepine tranquilisers

If you are experiencing severe anxiety and it is having an impact on your daily life, you may be offered a benzodiazepine tranquilliser. However, these drugs can have unpleasant side effects and can be addictive. Your doctor should only prescribe a low dose for a short time to help you through a crisis.

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