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Anxiety | Symptoms | Treatment | Attacks | Stress and anxiety | Medication | Children | Cause | Depression and anxiety

The two main forms of treatment for anxiety, or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), are medication and psychological therapy. It is usually preferable to first try therapy before reaching for the pills. But in many cases, best results are achieved through a combination of the two.

There are several types of medication prescribed to address anxiety or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). The most common forms of drugs used in the UK are benzodiazepines, anxiolytics, antihistamines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Benzodiazepines and anxiolytics are short term sedative type drugs that ease the symptoms of anxiety. Antihistamines have a calming effect on the brain which can help reduce feelings of anxiety. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase the level of serotonin in your brain, and therefore improve your mood. And finally, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) increase both serotonin and noradrenaline in your brain, helping to restore a more natural chemical balance.

The primary psychological treatment for anxiety is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This type of therapy focuses on teaching you the skills to better manage and understand your condition. It does not attempt to identify a reason for your anxiety through examining your past experiences.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that you should have approximately twenty hours of cognitive behavioural therapy over period of about four months. Recent studies have shown that cognitive behavioural therapy significantly improves symptoms in over 50% of people suffering from anxiety.

As well as medication and therapy, you can help improve your anxiety disorder by making changes to your lifestyle. Increased exercise, relaxation techniques, a healthy diet, and a reduction in smoking and drinking can all help improve your symptoms.

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