If you took a room full of people and enthusiastically asked everyone, “Who here loves anxiety?!”, the response you’d get wouldn’t quite match the excitement of the question…I assure you. No one particularly likes anxiety since it’s the manifestation of fear. But it should be noted that humans wouldn’t have made it this this far without it. Our ancestors used anxiety to escape predators when they lived in caves and huts. Without an innate fear, they would’ve just become a convenient snack.
But since we don’t need to be worried about sabre toothed tigers anymore, at what point does anxiety become less wonderful and more disastrous?
Anxiety Usefulness Threshold
Let’s consider that without some level of fear and anxiety, we wouldn’t get anything done. We wouldn’t get a job and go to it every day, because we wouldn’t fear the bills piling up until creditors kicked us to the curb. Since most of us do fear that, we have that little voice inside us every morning saying, “Hey…today’s a workday. Get up! Let’s go!”
But where this warning system can go wrong is when we feel heightened levels of anxiety about even going to the job in the first place. For some, it can even reach levels where they experience agoraphobia– a condition where someone is avoidant of situations due to intense fear and panic.
At that point, a usefulness threshold is crossed. This is because the anxiety is no longer working on your side. It’s turned on you. It’s reached a point where it is now a hindrance. For some, heightened levels of anxiety can be a short-term (acute) condition; with others it can be more long-term, or chronic. In some cases, treatment by a mental health provider is required.
Treatment for Anxiety
There are many ways to successfully treat anxiety. And a combination of treatment modalities can be the most effective.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Some refer to CBT as “talk therapy”. This is where someone has either visits with a therapist or counselor. A counselor can help identify anxiety triggers and assist with implementing healthy coping skills. This method of treatment often takes time and can be ongoing. It’s for someone who is “high functioning” and just needs a little boost, helping them to cope with the challenges of daily life.
Some cases require a pharmacological solution to help “kick” the anxiety down a few notches. This type of treatment is generally with a primary care doctor, nurse practitioner, or psychiatrist. There are many types of medications that can be prescribed and often is dependent on the type of anxiety.
Many would agree that medication alone only masks the problem, and combining it with CBT is going to guarantee a more effective approach.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment
If someone finds that their anxiety can’t be brought to a manageable level through either therapy, medication, or both, then a provider may determine that IOP would be required. This treatment is short-term and takes place in a group setting led by a therapist. IOP is generally for 9-15 hours per week and can go from 3-12 weeks.
Like CBT, intensive outpatient treatment can help you identify triggers and coping skills, but it’s a more intensive approach. The goal is to stabilize someone in as short a time as possible. Once someone reaches a more stable place, they would continue on with medication and one-on-one visits with a therapist.
Other Treatment Options
There are higher levels of care such as partial hospitalization, residential, and inpatient hospital treatment. These are usually required for someone who can’t function at all in daily life and needs immediate care. When someone needs a higher level of care such as this, it’s quite evident to the provider.
While anxiety is something we all have, and is useful for our own survival, there comes a point where it can become troublesome to our daily life…and even disastrous. If that happens, sometimes treatment is required to bring someone to a more stable state.
If you’re currently in a place where anxiety is getting in the way of progress or happiness in your life, please contact us and you can schedule an evaluation with one of our providers. Our LGBTQ+ focused IOP program helps those in the gay, lesbian, queer, and transgender community who need a safe place to be helped…and be heard. Often times, it’s only those who live within the community who can truly understand.