Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders adults in America, with over 40 million people experiencing an anxiety disorder each year. Anxiety disorders like PTSD, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and OCD can all make going about your daily life a challenge.
Visiting a psychiatrist is one way to manage or potentially eliminate the symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder diagnosis. As a medical doctor, a psychiatrist will most often use medications to treat the mental and physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder, and then combine those medications with other treatment options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The exact treatment, however, depends on you and your symptoms.
How a Psychiatrist Treats Anxiety
When you have excessive feelings of anxiety or are referred to a psychiatrist by your physician, a psychiatrist will first diagnose the issue. They’ll discuss with you whether the anxiety is continuous or triggered by certain situations. They will also determine if you may be dealing with other mental health disorders that are likely to accompany anxiety, such as depression.
With a diagnosis, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication. The medications most often used to treat symptoms of anxiety are:
- Antidepressants – Antidepressants work by changing the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain, affecting your mood. While this works for depression, it is often effective against anxiety too. SSRIs, tricyclics, and occasionally MOAIs are the most common antidepressants for various anxiety disorder treatments. These medications generally take about a month to become effective.
- Benzodiazepines – These medications are sedatives that will provide nearly immediate relief for anxiety by both calming thoughts and relaxing muscles. Recognizable names include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. While these medications can be helpful in mitigating symptoms of panic disorder or anxiety, they are habit forming and will often be only an initial treatment.
- Buspirone – Buspirone likely affects the serotonin in your brain, which is a neurotransmitter that impacts mood and happiness. This medication can take several weeks to become active, but then will work for both immediate and longer term anxiety management.
- Beta-Blockers – These are primarily designed to treat physical symptoms of heart conditions by preventing adrenaline from making a heart beat faster. Since adrenaline, a rapid heartbeat, and increased blood pressure are also symptoms of an anxiety or panic attic, calming these physical symptoms with beta-blockers can help reduce feelings of anxiety as well.
Your psychiatrist may prescribe one of these anxiety treatments after learning more about your symptoms, your individual needs, and your history with medications. This helps your psychiatrist determine which medication will be most effective in relieving your anxiety without unnecessary side effects.
Many anxiety medications have very limited side effects and are suitable for long term management of anxiety disorders. With any medication, you and your psychiatrist will meet continuously to ensure your anxiety treatment is working for you and make changes if needed.
In addition to medically assisted treatment, psychiatrists may also use psychotherapy and other support methods to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can let you verbally process the emotions, thoughts, and triggers that are a part of your anxiety. The psychiatrist might guide you through talk therapy themselves or refer you to a professional therapist.
Depending on your anxiety disorder, a psychiatrist may also suggest lifestyle changes such as incorporating mindfulness or eliminating caffeine or other stimulants.
For anxiety treatment in Dallas, Dr. Sehdev at Aware Behavioral Health is a psychiatrist trained in proven medication and psychotherapy based solutions for helping you reduce anxiety. Call us to learn more about the available treatment options.