Tool Module: Treating Anxiety Disorders

The kinds of therapies used to alleviate and sometimes even cure the various anxiety disorders can be divided into two main categories: 1) drug therapies, which use medications; and 2) various forms of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is a type of psychotherapy.

1) Drug Therapies

When patients are experiencing so much anxiety that it interferes with their daily activities, medication may be necessary. In such cases, doctors usually prescribe antidepressants, and in particular a family of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), among which Prozac is perhaps the best known.

Anxiolytics are another family of medications prescribed for anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines belong to this group; they must be prescribed with caution, because they can lead to a certain form of habituation.

There is only one group of anxiety disorders on which medications seem to have little effect: specific phobias.

2) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

The various forms of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) seem to be effective for every kind of anxiety disorder. They are designed to give patients the tools they need to confront their anxiety symptoms and eventually control them—for example, by restructuring their thoughts so as to interpret their experience in a more rational, less anxiety-producing manner.

Another method that has proven effective is to expose patients to the things or situations that make them anxious, but only gradually, in a setting that feels secure. Psychotherapists also use relaxation techniques and meditation as methods of helping people to control their anxiety by controlling their breathing.

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More recently, some psychotherapists have begun trying out other methods of treating anxiety disorders. One of the more controversial of these methods is known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). In EMDR, patients gradually recall disturbing emotional memories while concentrating on an external stimulus that helps them to reproduce the lateral eye movements that occur spontaneously during dreaming. In theory, this treatment enables the brain to finish digesting memories of traumas experienced in the past.

It has been shown, however, that these eye movements are not absolutely necessary for this method to be effective; exposing the patient to sounds alternately in one ear and then the other, or even having the patient make movements from right to left, may suffice. If these findings are confirmed, further studies will be needed to clarify this process, which does seem promising.

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Lastly, in addition to formal therapies, simple behaviours such as exercising regularly and tending carefully to one’s emotional relationships with friends and family have long been recognized as powerful natural antidepressants that can significantly enhance people’s moods.

Link : la psychologie peut vous aider dans le traitement des phobiesLink : Guérir autrementLink : Sept méthodes pour guérirResearch : David Servan-SchreiberTool : La gestion du stressLink : Comprendre les troubles anxieuxLink : Les phobies et troubles paniquesLink : Facts About Anxiety DisordersLink : TROUBLES ANXIEUX CHEZ LES JEUNES DE 14 À 25 ANS
Link : Les troubles anxieux : Orientations futures de la recherche et du traitementLink : A Brief Description of EMDRLink : Commonly Asked Questions About EMDRLink : Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)Link : "EMDR Controversial" : articles by the movers and shakers in the field of psychological reviewTool : Psychanalyse et troubles anxieux : éteindre les peurs conditionnées en « recâblant » le cerveauResearch : Entretien avec le Dr David  Servan-SchreiberLink : Neuropop ?Link : La normalité, cette obsession

Link : La peur aquatique : approches théorique et pratique


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