Sometimes, the search for getting help with chronic or severe anxiety can be as nerve-wracking as the anxiety itself.
So many questions and doubts can exist. Will therapy really work for me? Which treatment options will be the most effective? How will this be any different than my previous treatment experiences?
After all, it’s very discouraging if you have already been to anxiety treatment before, and it didn’t work.
However, that doesn’t mean that therapy, in the long run, can’t be beneficial. Maybe you just haven’t found what works yet.
Consider these potential treatment options for anxiety and whether they may work for you.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Also known as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is a well-established technique for treating a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety.
During a CBT session, you talk with your therapist about what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing. Together, you work to identify negative thought patterns that are unhelpful or even inaccurate. This is important because you might be caught in these thought patterns but not even realize that they are occurring.
And it’s these thought patterns that are the beginning of an anxiety episode. So, your therapist will teach you practical tools and skills that you can use to avoid getting drawn down that path and to alleviate your anxiety.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Another technique that can provide help for chronic or severe anxiety is EMDR. This is short for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
In session, a therapist guides you through the technique, by asking you to bring up a memory that is connected to whatever issue is troubling you (in this case anxiety). You don’t have to talk about what you’re thinking, though, as you would in talk therapy.
The therapist now initiates a bilateral stimulation of your eye movement, often done by holding a raised finger up, moving it back and forth in front of you, and asking you to track it visually. This helps your brain to process the related emotions about the disturbing thought.
Over several sessions, your distressing feelings should diminish more and more, allowing you to feel less anxious.
Neurofeedback- Technology Assisted Help For Anxiety
If you haven’t found anything that helped with chronic and severe anxiety in the past, perhaps neurofeedback therapy could work for you. What is it?
I often say to my patients “neurofeedback is like physical therapy for your brain“. With neurofeedback, you get to see your brainwaves on a screen or through an EEG readout. This is accomplished by gently placing sensors on your head, which then transmit the information. The data is interpreted by your therapist.
Our EEG brainwaves are indicators of our state. They also powerfully influence our minds and emotions. And our brainwaves can be trained.
What’s interesting about neurofeedback is that you can see your brainwaves change—from a baseline to when you are feeling anxious. With help from your therapist, you can then train your brain to respond differently when you are exposed to the triggers for your anxiety. Over time, your brain learns how not to react in a way that causes you to feel anxious.
Lifestyle Changes and a Positive Mindset
To provide effective help for chronic or severe anxiety, your therapist will likely recommend lifestyle changes too.
That may include, for example:
- Reducing stress in your life
- Getting enough sleep
- Avoiding caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants
- Practicing meditation
- Exercising more
What’s also helpful is developing a more positive mindset. With anxiety, you often find yourself catastrophizing—expecting the absolute worse to happen.
For example, if you touch something that you believe to be unclean, catastrophic thinking might lead you to believe that you will get sick or even die. In response, you may perform some ritual or habitual action to prevent this from happening. Yet, by shifting your mindset to one in which you don’t catastrophize, you can relieve your anxiety.
Help for anxiety, especially chronic and severe anxiety, takes many forms. There are several treatment options available, such as CBT, EMDR, and neurofeedback therapy. Also, making lifestyle changes can help.
If you are looking for help to manage chronic or severe anxiety, reach out to a therapist experienced in anxiety therapy. It would be my pleasure to be your guide on your journey to healing.