5 Options for Controlling Anxiety Disorders and Other Mental Illnesses
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or ADAA, more than 40 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from some type of clinical anxiety disorder. If you do the math, that’s a whopping 18.1 percent of the population. Not to mention, it’s a fact that 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population is affected by generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Symptoms of anxiety and depression can be serious, and hinder day to day life. They can include:
- Worrying Excessively
- Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability and Muscle tension
- Sleep issues
- Feelings of helplessness and despair
- Low self image
- Feelings of apathy and “numbness”
Anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses are highly treatable. However, it’s estimated that only 36.9% of people affected by anxiety receive proper treatment. If you or someone you know suffers from symptoms of anxiety, it’s important for them to know they can get help fighting their illness.
We’ve compiled this list of 5 options to consider for controlling anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses with the help of a mental health care provider.
There are various psychotherapy treatments, but one that has been found particularly effective in treating many forms of mental illnesses is cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is a means of treatment that focuses on correcting unhealthy thinking and behavior patterns through talking sessions with a trained therapist.
During these sessions, the affected individual will learn healthy coping mechanisms like relaxation techniques and methods of identifying and managing factors that contribute to their symptoms. CBT can involve learning how to change unhealthy patterns of behaviour, so that an individual can try to prevent symptoms. However, it’s a long haul process, but the effort involved ultimately creates its own reward.
Another means of treatment is medication. We stress the importance of consulting a doctor before taking any medications, and never self-medicate. The majority of prescriptions for the treatment of anxiety fall into one of two categories. SSRI’s and Beta Blockers.
SSRI’s work by enhancing the function of nerve cells in the brain that regulate emotion. Information is communicated between your brain cells with signals produced by neurotransmitting chemicals like serotonin, so some medications have been specifically designed to bind to receptors in the brain, in order to facilitate better communication between cells. Some options include Citalopram, Fluoxetine, and Sertraline.
Beta Blockers are drugs that block norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) from binding to beta receptors on nerves. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are neurochemicals released by the adrenal medulla and nervous system respectively. They are the fight or flight hormones that are released when the body is under extreme stress.
Psychiatric Service Dog
A psychiatric service dog is a specific type of service dog trained to assist their handler with a psychiatric disability or a mental disability, such as anxiety disorders or even post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychiatric service dogs undergo specific training with their respective handlers in order to be able to properly assist them. Some dogs are even trained to alert individuals with seizure conditions when they are about to have a neurological episode. Dogs really are man’s best friend. In more ways than one.
Service dogs are allowed to accompany their handlers in almost any situation or location, and are protected under part 36 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that a patient can be afforded the feeling of safety and comfort, as well as the tasks that the dogs are trained to do for them, at any time.
This one is a more holistic approach for sure, but for some it can be a very good creative outlet and coping mechanism for channeling their anxiety in a creative and constructive way. Drawing, painting, and even decoupage can be effective mediums that are also very cost effective, as art supplies are not very expensive to obtain. Through art, people with any mental condition can express themselves and illustrate their fears, anxieties and triggers as a means of coming to terms with their mental illness. As an added benefit, art can be done in group therapy environments and is also very enjoyable to many people, regardless of mental health. It just feels good to create art, and with disorders that present themselves with self esteem and self image issues, it can be a big boost of confidence for an individual to have an artistic ability to pursue.
For a certain percent of the population that is affected by mental disorders, counselling, medication, and intensive therapies simply aren’t effective enough for people with severe cases of depression, which often accompanies other mental disorders. For those people who have tried practically everything in regards to treating their illness to little success, treatments like transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroconvulsive therapy have shown much success in treating various severe cases of mental disorders.
TMS has been approved by the FDA for the purpose of alleviating symptoms of mildly treatment-resistant depression, in which patients have not found relief from antidepressant medication. It has also been studied as a possible treatment for a number of other disorders, such as schizophrenia, pain, stroke, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Though it should be noted that ECT and TMS should be considered only as a last resource when other treatments haven’t proved effective or side effects of medications have been intolerable.
While there are many various treatment options to consider in regard to anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses, a professional psychotherapist or psychiatric nurse should always be consulted when making decisions for treatment.
If you or a loved one have sought treatment for mental illness, what treatments and coping mechanisms have you found to be most effective in treating your condition? Leave a comment in the section below.