I’m starting a shorter series highlighting some need to know information about anxiety treatment. It’s called “anxiety shorts”.
Anxiety Treatment vs. Anxiety Management
These are two very important but different concepts. If you’re trying to manage or treat anxiety, they are very important to differentiate. I want everyone to receive good anxiety treatment, rather than management, as we are successful 70-80% of the time through anxiety treatment. Too often however, people are actually receiving anxiety management rather than anxiety treatment. I’ll show you how they are different and how you can recognize each.
Anxiety treatment is focused on making anxiety-producing situations (e.g. social situations, specific fears) less anxiety producing to the point that they no longer cause a problem. For example, if you suffer from social anxiety, successful treatment should hopefully result in no more anxiety in social situations.
Anxiety management involves learning coping skills to help reduce anxiety in the moment and get through future episodes of anxiety. For example, with social anxiety, management should hopefully help you get through situations where you feel anxious through techniques such as breathing.
You are likely getting anxiety treatment if:
- You know the name of the treatment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is most common.
- There is a rationale for how what you are doing will reduce anxiety.
- You are facing situations that make you anxious on purpose.
- You have some way of monitoring outcomes.
You may be getting anxiety management if:
- You are focusing mainly on breathing techniques, distractions, or other coping skills.
- You’re not deliberately facing situations that make you feel anxious.
- You’re not seeing a reduction in incidents of anxiety.
- You don’t know the name of what you are doing.
Always advocate for anxiety treatment. If you’re working with a clinician ask them:
- What is the name of the treatment I am receiving?
- How many sessions will successful treatment take?
- How are we measuring progress?
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