Mental illness is a challenging issue for any person. Some of the most severe conditions can make it impossible for the individual to function in daily life. If you or someone you care about is suffering from a mental illness, it is important to recognize the symptoms and their possible effects. It is also critical…
Psychiatric Treatment Options for Anxiety
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorder that people struggle with. It is also considered a chronic illness because of how often those who suffer from anxiety are affected by it. The good news is that this mental health condition is treatable. With psychiatric care, many people experience a reduction in the prevalence of their symptoms, the intensity of episodes or both.
Approaches to treating anxiety
Treating anxiety always begins with a proper diagnosis. Many people may be surprised to learn that this can include urine samples and blood work. The doctor may also ask in-depth questions about medical history and the symptoms experienced. Note that sometimes anxiety may be tied to medications or a medical condition. Sometimes it may not be anxiety at all. Asthma attacks are sometimes mistaken for anxiety attacks and vice versa.
Once a proper diagnosis is made, there are two main treatment approaches for anxiety. The first involves psychotherapy, and the second involves the use of medications. Not all psychiatrists practice psychotherapy beyond obtaining a diagnosis, so if talking through problems is important to the patient, it is important to find out whether or not the doctor is open to this approach. Patients may be referred to a psychologist for psychotherapy. However, note that most psychologists are not licensed to use medication to treat anxiety disorders.
Depending on the identified cause of the anxiety, some psychiatrists may also recommend a lifestyle change. Some suggested changes may include the following:
- Getting more rest or sleep
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Cutting back on caffeine and nicotine
- Increasing physical activity or exercise
- Using meditation and relaxation techniques
- Abstaining from recreational drugs and alcohol
Medications for treating anxiety
If psychotherapy and lifestyle changes are not enough, psychiatrists may recommend medications to help with managing symptoms. There are three main types of drugs prescribed by a psychiatrist to treat anxiety disorders. These include buspirone, antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
When a psychiatrist prescribes medications, following the instructions and returning for routine checkups is important. The main reason for this is that people respond differently to medication. What may relieve symptoms in one person may lead to depression and thoughts of suicide in others or have no effect at all. This is largely a trial and error scenario, so patients must maintain contact with their psychiatrists and report all symptoms and side effects to ensure proper treatment.
The bottom line
When psychiatrists provide both psychotherapy and medication, they offer offer holistic treatment to patients. Even when psychiatrists do not provide both treatment options, patients can receive both by also talking to a psychologist.
Working with both professionals is not an unusual setup. In fact, having two doctors provides the opportunity to get two professional opinions. It is, however, important to ensure that both doctors coordinate with each other or are aware of any treatment provided by the other.
Whichever approach you choose to take, be prepared to be open and honest. Sometimes patients are forced to share embarrassing details of how anxiety affects their everyday life. While anyone would prefer to keep this information to themselves, remember that failure to disclose this information could hinder treatment.
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