What Type of Therapy is Best For Anxiety?
Everyone has moments of worry or panic in their lives. Feeling anxious when trying something new or facing stressful situations is a normal and healthy emotion. However, having extreme feelings of fear, worry, or panic in everyday situations could signify an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is one of the most common mood disorders in Canada with 1 in 10 people affected by it. There are many types of anxiety and the severity of symptoms will differ from person to person, but all anxiety disorders negatively impact a person’s life. However, anxiety is treatable, and there are many different treatment options available. Determining what type of therapy is best for anxiety may depend on the type of anxiety and the individual.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
All anxiety disorders are marked by excessive feelings of fear, panic, or worry. These emotions are often triggered by something that doesn’t justify such an extreme reaction. When anxiety starts regularly affecting a person’s daily life, it goes above and beyond a normal fear response, and can often benefit from intervention.
There are many types of anxiety disorders. Most are categorized by the situation or object that triggers a person’s anxious response. Some of the most common anxiety disorders are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
When dealing with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), individuals have an overwhelming feeling of worry and anxiety even when there’s nothing to trigger it. Symptoms of GAD can go beyond mental and emotional responses into physical reactions, including muscle tension, fatigue, or nausea.
Panic disorder is marked by the presence of unexpected panic attacks, sometimes with no apparent cause. Panic attacks cause feelings of fear or terror and physical reactions such as nausea, shortness of breath, or a racing heart. People suffering from panic disorder feel such fear and worry of future panic attacks that they often change their day-to-day routines to try and prevent having another attack.
Individuals with agoraphobia often also suffer from panic disorder. For many people with agoraphobia, the fear of having a panic attack is so severe, they avoid places that make them feel trapped or as if there’s no escape. The fear of having an attack alone or somewhere busy and enclosed can cause people to avoid public spaces or crowds. At its most severe, people suffering from agoraphobia may refuse to leave their homes for fear of having an attack somewhere that makes them feel trapped or like there’s no escape.
A Specific Phobia is the excessive and overwhelming fear of a specific object or situation. Phobias are some of the most common anxiety disorders among both men and women. Some items, like spiders and needles, are well-known phobias, however, there are many other less common phobias. The fear caused by phobias is often overwhelming and can lead to panic attacks. People will often go to great lengths to avoid the object of their phobia.
When suffering from social anxiety, a person feels an intense fear that other people are judging them negatively or that they’re embarrassing themselves. This goes beyond mere shyness and often causes physical responses in the body. While the individual knows their fear is unwarranted, they aren’t able to keep themselves from panicking. This often leads to avoiding social situations and can negatively impact a person’s relationships, work, and daily life.
Best Forms of Therapy For Anxiety
Just as everyone’s anxiety looks different, every treatment plan is unique. There are many types of therapies for anxiety. When you begin working with a mental health professional, they will learn about the type of anxiety disorder you’re dealing with and work with you to find the best form of anxiety therapy. Some common therapy approaches are:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, is one of the most common types of anxiety therapy. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts about situations are what drives our emotions and reactions, not the situation itself. By assessing thought patterns and questioning how we think about triggering situations, we can start to adjust these thoughts. When we think differently about situations, our emotional and physical reactions change and anxiety lessens.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, or DBT, is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy. This approach works on balancing the opposing thoughts of accepting your anxiety while also working to lessen its effect on your life. Four skills DBT focuses on are mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation.
Somatic therapy focuses on the connection between mind and body. Anxiety and panic attacks have both emotional and physical responses, so somatic therapy works with both mental and physical techniques to overcome anxiety. It usually combines talk therapy with body work such as breathing exercises, physical movement, and overall body awareness.
EMDR therapy is often used to treat anxiety stemming from past traumatic experiences. This approach uses talk therapy in combination with external stimulus. This engages different parts of your brain at the same time. By talking about traumatic events while the physical and auditory parts of your brain are working, your mind and body can more easily process painful memories.
Internal Family Systems, or IFS, is a therapeutic approach that views a person as made up of many different parts of themselves. Sometimes, these different parts don’t align and a person can face internal conflicts. By identifying the different aspects of a person, we can build self awareness and harmony between these different parts. Knowing your true self can help you heal from past traumas and overcome anxiety.
In Solution-Focused Therapy, the focus is on building solutions to anxiety and its symptoms. This approach looks at a person’s strengths and possibilities and uses those to build solutions. The main premise is that change is inevitable, and all people have the strength and knowledge to guide that change in a positive direction.
Is Online Anxiety Therapy Effective?
Online anxiety therapy ensures everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to treatment for their anxiety. Virtual appointments with Gibson & Associates are convenient, confidential, and effective. Our online counselling sessions are compliant with Ontario’s Privacy Health Information Protect Act (PHIPA) and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
No matter where you are in Ontario, we can support you in taking back control of your life and overcoming your anxiety. Contact us today if you’d like to get started.
Need Help Selecting The Best Therapy For Anxiety?
At Gibson & Associates, we’re here to help. No matter what type of anxiety you’re dealing with, we’ll work together to find the best therapy approach to help you overcome your anxiety and start living your best life.