Most people with anxiety disorders can experience great improvements with professional care.
There are a number of treatment approaches for anxiety disorders.
The type of treatment you receive will depend on your symptoms and type of anxiety disorder.
Not every treatment works for every person. You may need to try a number of treatments, or combinations of treatments, before finding what works for you.
The main categories of treatments for anxiety disorders include:
Psychotherapy (talk therapy with a trained mental health professional)
Natural remedies and complementary treatments
A range of medications are available to treat anxiety disorders.
Anxiety medications often are used in conjunction with psychotherapy to treat anxiety disorders.
The two general types of medications used to treat anxiety disorders are:
Anti-anxiety medications (sometimes called anxiolytics)
Psychotherapy for Anxiety
A form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) often is used to treat anxiety disorders.
CBT focuses on changing unhealthy thinking and behavior patterns through talk sessions with a trained therapist.
During CBT, you’ll work together with your therapist to develop positive techniques for coping with fear, anxiety, and other symptoms. You’ll also learn to identify and manage factors that contribute to your anxiety.
CBT may involve learning how to change harmful thought patterns so that you experience less anxiety over time. You also may learn relaxation techniques — such as deep breathing exercises — to help counteract anxiety symptoms when they occur.
CBT is not a quick fix. It may take up to three or four months before you see benefits from your therapy sessions.
Some people receiving CBT also take medications for their anxiety.
There are several different types of CBT. One type of CBT is called exposure therapy.
Exposure therapy is used to treat certain phobias. It involves gradually exposing you to a feared situation or object, causing you to become less fearful over time.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety
Certain alternative practices and natural remedies may be used alongside conventional treatments (such as medication and psychotherapy) to treat anxiety disorders.
These alternative remedies include:
Meditation: There’s some scientific evidence that meditation — especially a type of meditation training called mindfulness-based stress reduction — can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.
Regular exercise and yoga: Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.
Some studies suggest that practicing yoga (or performing other types of regular exercises, such as walking or jogging) can help reduce anxiety.
Acupuncture: Some scientific evidence suggests that acupuncture — the Chinese practice of inserting thin needles into the body at certain points — can help reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Acupuncture may be especially effective when combined with other treatments, such as CBT.
Kava: This dietary supplement comes from the crushed root of a Polynesian shrub. Some studies show that kava may be useful for treating anxiety symptoms.
Speak with your doctor before using kava. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that using kava supplements may lead to liver damage in some people.
Lavender: Lavender oil is commonly used in aromatherapy.
Some people believe that this scent has a calming or soothing effect, but there’s little scientific evidence to support the use of lavender for treating an anxiety disorder.
St. John’s wort: Supplements made from this plant have been used to treat depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
Some scientific studies show that St. John’s wort may be no more effective than a placebo (inactive pill) for treating these disorders.
Valerian: This medicinal herb has been used to treat anxiety and depression for many centuries.
Still, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to know whether valerian is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders.