of anxiety disorders varies, depending on the nature of the
disorder and individual patient characteristics. Many patients
respond well to behavioral therapy. In this approach, a patient
is asked to gradually confront the source of the fear. A person
with panic attacks might be asked to return several times
to a place associated with an attack. With the help of a therapist
or supportive friend, the patient learns to "ride out"
an attack rather than run from it.
Traditional psychotherapy, talking out problems with a therapist,
can be beneficial to many patients. A newer approach, called
cognitive therapy, can help patients identify the distorted
thoughts and misconceptions that contribute to the anxiety.
Several types of medications are useful in treating anxiety
disorders and are usually used in conjunction with other forms
of therapy. These include anti-depressants (such as imipramine),
anxiety-reducing drugs (such as alprazolam and buspirone)
and cardiac drugs, known as beta-blockers.
The important thing to remember is that effective treatments
are available for anxiety disorders, and no one should feel
the need to retreat from life because of overwhelming anxiety.
The biggest step, and often the toughest, is to ask for help.