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There are many different avenues of support when it comes to anxiety conditions which can be accessed both through your GP and privately.
The most common avenues for managing anxiety are:
Talking therapies: The most commonly accessed talking therapies are: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), counselling and clinical hypnotherapy.
Medication: GPs commonly prescribe are beta-blockers or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) for the treatment of anxiety and anxiety based depression.
Alternative therapies: Some people prefer to access alternative therapy support such as traditional acupuncture or Reiki.
Support/self-help groups: There are many supportive networks of people run by those experiencing similar conditions to discuss and share problems with.
Self-care supportive treatments such as mindfulness, meditation and self-help books are also very popular to access alongside this support.
How can you access treatment for anxiety?
There are many treatment options available for anxiety both through the NHS and private routes:
GP Support: GPs will often support patients using a combination of medication, referrals to Improving Access to Psychological - IAPT services for support including stress reduction courses, group or 1:1 CBT talking therapy. The treatment offered will usually depend on the severity of the anxiety condition.
Private therapy: Private therapy is now becoming an increasingly popular alternative as many want a choice in therapeutic approach or when faced with longer waits for NHS support, prefer to go private and be seen quicker. Private therapy also offers clients the opportunity to access a longer course of therapy than that which is typically available through the NHS. There are many types of therapeutic approaches but the most common talking therapy options are CBT, person centred counselling and clinical hypnotherapy.
Support through charities: The major barrier for people accessing private therapy is usually the cost. Organisations such as Anxiety UK (AUK) provide access to a range of privately practising therapists through the Anxiety UK Approved Therapist scheme, at a reduced cost based on household income. This support can also typically be accessed quicker than through NHS routes. You can find out more about accessing AUK therapy here:
Self-care and anxiety?
We need a different scale of ambition when struggling with our mental health. What we can usually do or achieve goes out of the window. Instead we have to start small, really small. Look up at a tree. Go to the park. Water a plant.
There are ways to look after yourself when you have anxiety:
Exercise and Diet play a key role in mental health as your brain requires nutrients to function well and exercise also produces endorphins that make you feel good. Exercise has been shown to relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better, and boost overall mood.
Mindfulness: Significant research has explored the positive benefits of using Mindfulness, meditation and breathing techniques to help centre a person in the present and calm the physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety.
Self-help tools: There are a range of self-help books, CDs and DVDs available to help you manage your symptoms at home, many of which are available through Anxiety UK’s website.
Me time: Anxiety and stress are often triggered when we don’t take time out for ourselves.
Regardless of genre, the act of focusing on the words from self-help books - the pages and the chapters – took me away from the situation before paradoxically allowing me to return with the resources I needed to face it. This was especially the case during those long hours of the night when anxiety kept sleep at bay.
Making time for the things you enjoy whether that be going to the gym, playing music, drawing or going to the theatre is vital for keeping mentally healthy.
How can you support a family member or friend with anxiety?
Anxiety affects not only the individual but also the people around them. The longer the anxiety continues the greater the effect it can have on friends and family members. There are a number of ways however that caregiver can support someone experiencing anxiety:
Listen: Listen without judgement or assumption in order that they can talk without worrying of the repercussions.
Be predictable and accommodate if you can: Check in with a friend to reassure them, don’t surprise them or support them to adapt situations they find stressful e.g. avoiding situations with large crowds
Understand: Read up about the anxiety condition they are experiencing to help you to understand behaviours or feelings that are often linked to the condition. You may also want to look at Anxiety UK’s caregiver’s guide to anxiety for further tips.
Support them accessing professional help: Going to the GP or finding a therapist can be difficult so offer to go along if they need a helping hand. Share articles like this one can or link to services such as Anxiety UK to help them know what support is out there.
Support self-care: Encourage friends and family to eat well, get out of the house and exercise or sign up to a gym class together. Help them do the things that they enjoy and give positive reinforcement and encouragement.