Anxiety is a feeling that has many effects on a person. It can impact the way a person thinks, acts and feels. Everyone is affected differently by anxiety, and for many it is so intrusive that they may become desperate for relief. Like most mental health disorders, anxiety is treatable. However, whether anxiety is ‘curable’ can be a bit complicated. Anxiety is brought on by many different factors, so finding a simple solution is not always so easy.
Understanding What Causes Anxiety
To begin, it is important to understand how anxious feelings happen. Everyone will experience anxiety at different times, and what triggers anxiety for one may not trigger anxiety for another. Many things can trigger anxiety, like:
- Positive events
- Negative events
- Apprehension about the future
- Interpersonal issues
Anxiety has an important role in the human body. It triggers an alert system to the brain and body when there is a threat or danger. In cases where it is merited to feel nervous, anxiety is quite helpful, and could even save a life. It also helps maintain mental, emotional and physical wellness. However, for those with an anxiety disorder, their trigger centers for anxiety in the brain are overactive. This over-activity causes them to be hypersensitive to stress, resulting in more severe symptoms than that of a person without an anxiety disorder.
The brain activity in an anxious person is different than that in a person who is not typically anxious. A person’s potential for anxiety depends on:
- Genetics. If a person has a family member (parent, sibling, or grandparent) with anxiety it is likely he or she will also have anxiety.
- Environment. If a person is exposed to a chaotic or unhealthy environment for a prolonged period of time he or she will build a higher potential for anxiety. This means that the brain will expect a need for an anxious reaction more often, even if it is not objectively warranted. This is the result of the memory centers of the brain reacting to situations that may be perceived as similar to the threatening situations from the past.
Can it be Cured?
One of the most common questions is can anxiety be cured? Anxiety is a disorder of the mind. It develops through factors like genes, upbringing, and the patient’s circumstances. It is a complex disorder without a simple solution. At this point there is no cure for anxiety. Anxiety is built through training and reinforcement of the brain, whose purpose is to protect the body. For a mental health disorder that can be caused in so many different ways, it is not realistic to find one solution or ‘cure’. However, even though there is not a cure, a person suffering from anxiety still has options to get better. There are many ways that anxiety can be treated. This means that the patient can take measures to reduce the impact it has on his or her life. While it does take time, patience, and willpower, it is possible to regain control of your anxiety and reduce the symptoms to be less intrusive on your life.
Ways to Treat Anxiety
One of the most effective things a person with anxiety can do to ease their anxiety is to seek therapy. Therapy is very helpful for anxiety because it allows you to explore your anxiety, how it started, and how it affects you. The most common form of therapy for anxiety is talk therapy. This means you meet with a licensed mental health professional once a week and simply talk about your anxiety. You will discuss what anxiety is, how it affects your life, and things that you can do to ease the symptoms. Your therapist will know different ways you can modify your thinking, behavior, and emotions to help you feel less anxious. Your therapist will likely ask you to engage in different therapeutic approaches. Some common therapeutic approaches for anxiety are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of therapy that addresses your thoughts, emotions and behavior. With CBT you will learn how your thoughts influence your emotions, and how your emotions trigger your behavior. This form of therapy is useful because it specifically targets negative thoughts that cause anxiety and teaches you ways to modify the way you think to reduce the negative thoughts and resulting negative emotions.
- Exposure Therapy. Exposure therapy is form of anxiety treatment that forces you to confront different kinds of situations you would typically avoid. In doing this you will slowly become desensitized by the trigger. Eventually your anxious reaction to the trigger will decrease dramatically. This process is often referred to as systematic desensitization, and is particularly helpful with phobias, obsessive thoughts or compulsive behavior.
- Psychiatric Medications. A mental health professional can recommend you consider anti-anxiety medication. While medication is not prescribed in all cases, it can help reduce anxiety. When used in conjunction with consistent therapy it is effective in diminishing symptoms. Common psychiatric medications used to treat anxiety are:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Tricyclic Antidepressants
Considering what we know about anxiety, how anxiety is triggered, and how it affects most people, it is safe to say there is no easy, fast cure for the symptoms. Anxiety is a natural reaction the body has to indicate threat or danger, so it does serve an important purpose. While it may be overactive in many people, it is important to not be rid of anxiety, but rather learn how to control it.
It is important to seek treatment for anxiety if you feel it is impacting on your quality of life. Though it is a natural process it is possible for your anxiety to be over-active. There are ways you can learn how to manage your anxiety on a daily basis, but it will take time and patience. With patience, commitment, and perseverance it is possible to control your anxiety and not let it control you.