Anxiety disorders are, along with mood disorders, the psychological problems that most affect people of all ages.
The discomfort that this phenomenon produces can take many forms and appear in very different contexts, to the point where we can say that everyone experiences anxiety in their own way.
However, despite the complexity of such psychological alterations, the science of psychology has succeeded in developing forms of intervention to effectively manage and overcome these problems. To better understand these resources, throughout this article we will be looking at a summary of what anxiety therapy is.
What do we mean by anxiety problems?
To understand how psychologists help patients who come to our clinics with anxiety problems, we must first understand what exactly the latter, the anxiety phenomenon, consists of.
By anxiety we mean a set of physiological, cognitive, emotional processes and patterns of interaction with the environment characterized by the appearance of a state of alert aimed at avoiding feared situations, such as the response to the need to react quickly to any sign of danger or risk.
Which means when we feel anxious what happens to us has a lot to do with fear: Sometimes it’s the fear of what we might lose if we don’t act quickly when it happens, and sometimes the fear is based on not missing out on an opportunity that, if not not exploited, would make us feel very bad. In most cases, the two phenomena occur simultaneously to a greater or lesser extent.
Since anxiety predisposes us to react quickly, this in itself is not a bad thing; anxiety therapy is therefore not something we all have to resort to all the time. In fact, it is part of the survival mechanisms that we have inherited from our ancestors, because natural selection favored the existence of a certain degree of propensity for anxiety in individuals. however, nothing in nature is perfect, which is why sometimes anxiety can lead to problems.
For example, some people develop addictions due to an inappropriate style of dealing with anxiety, others assume that the anxiety they feel is due to their low self-worth as people, others develop disorders. phobias, etc. None of this is in itself an inevitable product of just having the ability to feel anxiety, however. sometimes the combination of biological characteristics and personal experiences causes this type of psychological alteration..
What is anti-anxiety psychotherapy?
When anxiety becomes a major problem that affects a person in one or all areas of a person’s life and damages their mental health, it is time to go to psychotherapy. These are the most common psychotherapeutic intervention resources used to consult with psychologists when helping patients with anxiety disorders.
1. Systematic desensitization
Systematic desensitization is one of the most widely used forms of intervention in the treatment of anxiety. It is based on “training” patients to deal with experiences that cause them problematic levels of anxiety., In combination with relaxation exercises that induce states incompatible with anxiety.
In this way, the link between what is feared, on the one hand, and the anxious reaction, on the other hand, is weakened.
2. Cognitive restructuring
Cognitive restructuring is based on Socratic dialogue, a type of dialogue with the therapist in which it is to question those beliefs to which the patient clings and which at the same time maintain the problem to be treated, In this case related to anxiety. Examples of inappropriate beliefs that reinforce the problem are ideas such as “I am meant for everyone to laugh at me”, “I will never be able to cope with this fear”, “I am unable to prevent everything from going badly “, etc.
Hypnosis can help relieve anxiety problems and is used in combination with other tools used in psychological intervention programs. It consists of a set of techniques based on the power of suggestion to help patients reorient their attention span towards non-problematic aspects of how they feel.
4. Self-observation strategies
Psychotherapy also helps the person to detect the logic behind their anxiety problem, so that they are able to have a critical and informed perspective on what is happening to them, and not take for granted what they feel, is that it corresponds totally to reality. To achieve this, psychoeducation is carried out on the one hand, and a self-observation training plan on the other., In which patients learn to detect thought patterns that fuel the anxiety problem on a daily basis.
5. Pay attention to the psychological problems that arise
In many cases, problematic anxiety does not come on its ownBut it is presented by other harmful psychological disorders. For example, anxiety-depressive symptoms are common. Faced with this, psychologists do not limit themselves to treating anxiety only, even if this was the only reason for consultation.
Are you interested in overcoming anxiety issues through psychotherapy?
As we have seen, anxiety in itself is not always a sufficient reason for needing to go to the psychologist. However, it is not uncommon for the situation to get out of hand and for the person suffering the effects to feel that the situation is over.
Faced with such experiences, it is important to have professional help; not only because not doing so can be costly, but also because, fortunately, psychotherapy has effective resources to deal with this reality.
At the psychological assistance center Advanced psychologists we have two decades of experience dedicating ourselves to providing professional help to people, and we are currently assisting both our facilities in Madrid and online therapy.
We offer individual and couple psychotherapy, therapy for children and adolescents, sexology and psychiatry, therefore we offer coverage in all aspects of mental health to adults, children and adolescents. You can see our contact details, as well as more information about how we work, on this page.
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- Otte, C. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral therapy in anxiety disorders: current state of the evidence. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. 13 (4): pages 413 to 421.
- Rynn, MA; Brawman-Mintzer, O. (2004). Generalized anxiety disorder: acute and chronic treatment. CNS spectra. 9 (10): pages 716-723.