If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the NHS may offer you self-help methods, talking therapies or medication.
Self-help for anxiety
There are lots of self-help methods, often based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT helps you to rethink negative thoughts and behaviours.
- Non-facilitated self-help – This involves using information provided by the NHS to help yourself
- Guided self-help – A trained professional will take you through the information
- Psycho-educational groups – In a group, you’ll learn about your symptoms and how to manage them
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT helps you understand the links between your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It can help you to find ways to overcome your anxiety by challenging negative thoughts and beliefs.
You’ll usually be offered 12–15 weekly sessions each lasting 1 hour, but you can receive less or more depending on your needs.
In applied relaxation, a trained therapist will teach you how to relax your body in a new way. For example, learning how to relax your muscles so that you can fall asleep easier.
Depending on the anxiety that you have, you will usually get 12–15 weekly sessions each lasting 1 hour. But you can also receive more or less depending on what you need.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP)
This is used for a range of anxiety disorders, but is particularly effective for helping with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). A therapist will encourage you to experience your obsessive thoughts and help you to manage them in a new way.
Medications for anxiety
You may be offered medication to help manage your anxiety. Some common medications for anxiety are:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – SSRI’s are antidepressants used to help treat anxiety. Sertraline is the most common SSRI suggested for anxiety, but there are other SSRIs available
- Benzodiazepines – Doctors should only prescribe benzodiazepines if your anxiety is extreme or if you are in crisis. This is because they are addictive and become less effective if used long-term
- Beta-blockers – These can help with the physical signs of anxiety. They can help to lower a fast heartbeat, shaking or blushing
Complementary therapies are alternative treatments such as mindfulness, yoga and hypnotherapy. They are not usually part of NHS care, but many people find them useful for helping with symptoms of anxiety.
Self-help for anxiety
As well as medication or talking treatments you can also try self-help techniques. These are things that you can do at home to help you relax and manage your symptoms.
It’s important to find out what’s right for you. Things won’t change overnight, but over time you may notice your symptoms improving.
Popular self-help methods:
- Doing relaxing tasks such as guided meditation or relaxing music
- Eating healthily
- Keeping a routine
- Try to get enough sleep
- Keep a mood diary to help you be aware of your symptoms, and what makes you better and worse
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