Anxiety Scrabble

Does Therapy Help with Anxiety?


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Written by Joe Nightingale

Medical Doctor

01 Mar, 2022

Dealing with anxiety can feel isolating and lonely. Anxiety disorders can interfere with our daily lives. Panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, and unrelenting worries can cripple our support networks and prevent us from seeking the support we so desperately need.

You’re not alone.

According to Health Direct, around 1 in 4 Australians will struggle with an anxiety disorder at some stage in their life. Some anxiety is a normal part of life – be it before an exam, getting married, or embarking on a new career. But it’s when anxiety affects our daily lives, it’s time to ask for help.

Getting therapy for anxiety is one common option available through Medicare. But does it work? Can therapy for anxiety help alleviate symptoms and return us to a calmer and more fulfilling life?

Does therapy help with anxiety?

Yes! Like any illness, anxiety requires treatment to get better. Sure, you can struggle alone or speak to friends and family. However, there is no adequate replacement for qualified, professional help.

Contrary to popular belief – anxiety exists to help us. It’s designed to put us into the fight-or-flight mode when faced with danger. Think tackling sabre-tooth tigers or fending off a horde of angry emus. In the modern world, however, such response systems can go haywire.

Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions in which the anxiety response occurs due to a normal stressor. It could be a phobia of spiders or a general feeling of anxiety in a normal situation.

Therapists can help understand these symptoms, giving you the tools to manage your anxiety yourself – both now and going forwards.

When to get help for anxiety

No matter your level of anxiety, everyone can benefit from help and support. However, anxiety is just an aspect of life, not a condition to be managed for most people. Below are a few signs you may benefit from therapy for anxiety:

  • Your anxiety prevents (or makes it difficult) you from completing daily tasks like eating, cleaning, work, or child care.

  • You feel afraid to go out in public or see other people.

  •  Your anxiety impacts your relationships with friends and family.

  • Your anxiety impacts your work.

  • You struggle to sleep.

  • You are thinking about hurting yourself.

If you notice any of these signs, do not hesitate to seek help.

How does therapy help anxiety?

It can be difficult to imagine a life without anxiety. To picture yourself leaving the house or going to work without that overwhelming sense of panic. Therapy can help. But how?

1. Reorient your thinking

Anxiety isn’t always about external factors, like money worries or family troubles; it can also be how we respond to such difficulties. What is anxiety-inducing to one person isn’t a worry to the next. Therapy for anxiety can reorientate your thinking, reducing the feeling of anxiety. Unpicking these cognitive distortions is critical to controlling any unwanted thoughts.

2. Spot triggers

What brings your anxiety on? You may say there is no cause – and that is possible. But often, a therapist can help us spot why we suddenly felt so anxious. Is it a certain person? A situation? Even just the idea of change? Understanding our triggers is the first step in making any necessary life changes.

3. Devise coping mechanisms

All too often, when battling anxiety alone, we develop problematic coping mechanisms. We may drink, take drugs, or avoid difficult situations entirely. After all, anxiety stems from the fight-or-flight response – it’s only natural to want to run. However, through therapy, you can develop healthy coping mechanisms to handle negative situations or uncomfortable thoughts better.

What are the types of therapy for anxiety?

Therapy comes in many different forms. Some of the most common types merely involve talking to a counsellor. Others are more intensive, helping us alter our thinking patterns and behaviour.

Here are the most common therapies for anxiety:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. There are two main components:

  1. Cognitive therapy helps recognise how thoughts perpetuate feelings of anxiety and stress.

  2. Behavioural therapy helps understand how negative habits and reactions trigger anxiety.

By altering how we think and act, we can better control our anxiety – challenging it as and when it arises.

Interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal therapy focuses on how our relationships with colleagues, friends, or family impact our anxiety. It’s often used in adolescents – but it’s available to everyone.

Interpersonal therapists will start by understanding your mental health and social relationships. They’ll then try to build up positive social interactions to develop a support network and reduce feelings of isolation, avoidance, and aggression.

Other psychological therapies

In addition, there is also acceptance and commitment therapies, like mindfulness, which help provide calm through meditative practices. Meanwhile, narrative therapy uses stories to describe your life, putting anxiety within context.

Accessing therapy in Australia

Many types of therapists can help you with anxiety - counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists are all qualified to provide therapy for anxiety, but deciding which one is right for you can be challenging, to help you decide take a read of our blog post that explains the differences between them.

You may claim part of the cost of your counselling sessions from Medicare, but in order to do so you must get be assessed by a GP referral to a psychologist or social worker.

You may also be able to claim the cost back through your private health insurance, so it's worth checking that your policy extras include 'mental health services'.

To help you find the right therapist you can book a free consultation with one of our compassionate and qualified therapists. We understand how difficult it is to live with anxiety. You don’t need to do so alone. By accessing therapy, you’re taking a major step in the path to recovery.

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Joe Nightingale

Medical Doctor

Joe is a qualified medical doctor, graduating from Hull York Medical School, United Kingdom in 2017. He's an avid freelance writer and also one of the top science writers at Medium.

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