Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders
What are anxiety disorders?
Anxiety is a normal response to a stressor, and it helps us mobilize and focus our attention to respond to the stressor. An anxiety disorder can develop when anxiety is excessive and causes intense distress and/or interferes with functioning. The anxiety disorders are: Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and Specific Phobia. A person can have (and often has) more than one anxiety disorder.
Has cognitive behavior therapy been shown to be effective for treating anxiety and anxiety disorders?
Dozens of randomized controlled trials have shown that CBT is superior to wait list control conditions and equal to medications for treating anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavior therapy has been shown to be effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders in many more controlled studies than other forms of psychotherapy, which are not often studied in randomized controlled trials. A small number of controlled studies have compared CBT to other forms of psychotherapy and generally found both treatments to be equally effective, with the exception of a recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2013 showing that CBT was superior to psychodynamic psychotherapy for the treatment of social anxiety disorder.
What is involved in cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety and anxiety disorders?
CBT for anxiety disorders involves learning strategies to approach rather than avoid situations and stimuli that trigger the anxiety. This approach is often called “exposure therapy”. The cognitive behavioral approach to treating anxiety also involves learning skills to manage the anxiety and to test out beliefs that cause and maintain the anxiety and avoidance that are typical of anxiety disorders (e.g., “If I experience a panic attack I will go crazy,” or “If I ask a woman out on a date she will reject and humiliate me”).
Click here to learn more about an empirically supported treatment for social anxiety, and here to learn more about empirically supported treatments for PTSD from the American Psychological Association
Contact us to learn more about obtaining treatment for anxiety or an anxiety disorder at our center.