People with anxiety disorders respond better to CBT, says study

People with anxiety disorders respond better to CBT, says study

People struggling with anxiety disorders can respond better to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) than to medications, a recent study suggested. According to the study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, CBT is more effective in helping people with anxiety having high baseline error-related negativity (ERN) as compared to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications. ERN is an electrical brain signal (measured with an electroencephalogram) that occurs when an individual commits a behavioral error.

According to researchers from the University of Illinois-Chicago, people with fear-based anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) had higher ERN. However, ERN was regardless of distress/misery symptoms. Fear symptoms in conditions like social anxiety, phobias and panic attacks were related to enhanced ERN and could be treated with CBT, indicated the researchers.

The findings showed that ERN levels might help physicians take treatment decisions regarding using CBT or SSRIs as preferred treatment, especially among patients with an elevated ERN. SSRIs are second-generation antidepressants that are considered safer (in terms of side effects) over the first-generation antidepressants, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants (MAOIs).

Other second-generation antidepressants include bupropion (Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR) and duloxetine (Cymbalta). SSRIs help alleviate depressive symptoms by increasing the available levels of serotonin, a brain chemical associated with mood and social behavior. Citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine and paroxetine are some of the FDA-approved SSRIs.

Dealing with GAD

General anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms like persistent sense of worry, accelerated heart rate, sudden sensation of intense fear, chest pain and dread of dying. In contrast to fears evoked by some real life situations, these symptoms may appear with or without any visible trigger. Sometimes, a person experiencing frequent anxiety attacks start anticipating another fit, which tends to make him or her more vulnerable to GAD.

Generally, adolescents are more vulnerable to anxiety disorders. Therefore, it is important to help teens cope with initial fear about a situation or an event in order to prevent its progression to disabling anxiety disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 6.8 million adults – 3.1 percent of the U.S. population – suffer from GAD in any given year. However, people struggling with GAD should not give in to its symptoms. It may be difficult in the beginning to counter feelings of fear and restlessness. But they should learn to dismiss these uncomfortable sensations as non-serious problem. They should tell themselves that nothing is wrong with their health and the anxiety attacks will pass without harming them in any way. Practicing this regularly would enable them alleviate the symptoms.

Anxiety disorders may make an individual breathless. Breathing exercise can help brush off some of the symptoms. Moreover, regular physical activity, particularly aerobic exercise, can be effective in relieving stress levels and boost mood and confidence. Healthy eating practices, including having small meals at regular intervals, can help maintain optimum blood sugar levels. In addition, it is advised to avoid caffeine, smoking and alcohol as they can aggravate the symptoms.

Getting professional help

If anxiety disorders fail to subside through lifestyle measures, it is time to seek professional help. Timely treatment can help avoid complications associated with anxiety and depression. Experts recommend CBT as an effective therapeutic approach to get over anxiety-related disorders. Having confidence in their own abilities and thinking positive about themselves can help people vulnerable to GAD/SAD maintain good mental health.

If you or your loved one is struggling with anxiety problems like GAD, connect to Sovereign Health, which is one of the leading treatment centers for GAD in California. Our trained experts provide evidence-based treatment to facilitate fast recovery and help a patient enjoy better quality of life. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with one of our counselors to know more about our GAD treatment centers in California.

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