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Is Counseling Good for Anxiety?

writtenByWritten by: Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.
reviewBy Reviewed by: Melissa Dowd (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)
Reviewer

Melissa Dowd (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)

Melissa Dowd received her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University of CA and is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. In addition to her work as a clinical therapist, Melissa is passionate about promoting emotional wellness through leading workshops, guest appearances, and across social media platforms.

January 24, 2021 Read Time - 11 minutes

Treating Anxiety with Counseling

Counseling is good for anxiety because it addresses the underlying causes of your worries and fears. Anxiety counseling teaches you how to relax, focus on your feelings, and develop coping techniques and problem-solving skills. 

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of anxiety, the most common types of counseling, and how you can find immediate treatment for any anxiety you’re experiencing. 

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

Can Anxiety Be Cured?

Yes, anxiety can be cured and is 100% treatable. Typically, the earlier you start treatment, the faster recovery is.

Anxiety often comes in waves, and managing an anxiety disorder means taking the steps necessary to anticipate and manage these waves instead of wishing they would just disappear. In order to tackle your anxiety, you must learn to surf above the waves.

It can be hard to do this on your own. Asking for help from family or friends, as well as mental health professionals and doctors is a great way to overcome anxiety. 


Related: Take our Anxiety Quiz


Do I Need Counseling for My Anxiety?

When your world becomes limited because of anxiety, it means you may need to seek treatment.

You may need counseling for anxiety if the following issues are noticeable:

  • You avoid loved ones
  • You skip school or work
  • You have sleep disturbances
  • You have extreme procrastination

Anxiety can spill over into all facets of life which is a signal that it is time to seek help.

Would you skip out on a friend’s wedding in order to avoid giving a toast, purposefully ignore phone calls to avoid talking to people, or make up excuses to avoid hanging out with friends? Everybody feels anxious sometimes, but when the sensation of fear makes you feel like life is passing you by, it may be time to seek help.

For many, anxiety treatment can drastically improve your ability to enjoy life. The type of therapy you need depends on the type and severity of your anxiety. 

Anxiety Stats 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Institute of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States affecting 18% of the adult population or more than 40 million people.

An estimated 25% of youth aged 13 -18 live with some type of anxiety disorder. 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), most people develop symptoms of anxiety before age 21. Anxiety can be inherited, developed, or both. Unresolved trauma can result in anxiety disorders and symptoms.

Of adult anxiety patients:

  • 22.8% are seriously impaired
  • 33.7% experience moderate impairment
  • 43.5% experience mild impairment

Even if you’re experiencing mild impairment due to anxiety, it is recommended that you seek treatment to prevent your anxiety from worsening.

Anxiety Signs and Symptoms

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), anxiety is defined as excessive worry occurring more days than not, for at least 6 months.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10) code classifies anxiety disorder by excessive, uncontrollable, and often irrational worry, which includes apprehensive expectations about events or activities.

An anxiety disorder is associated with three (or more) of the following symptoms:

  • Inability to control worries and fears
  • Restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep).

Excessive worrying often interferes with daily functioning. Other symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems such as irritable bowel and nausea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Trembling/Shaking
  • Nervous tics
  • Racing thoughts
  • Stumbling over words

Types of Anxiety

The DSM classifies several types of anxiety disorders.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – chronic feelings of doom and worry that have no direct cause or clear reason. 
  • Panic disorder – experience unexpected panic attacks on a regular basis.
  • Coronavirus anxiety – anxiety related to infection or transmission of the COVID-19 disease.
  • Social anxiety disorder/Social phobia – persistent, intense fear about specific social situations in which you may feel judged, embarrassed, or humiliated.
  • Separation anxiety – fear of leaving home or parting from certain individuals.
  • Selective mutism – persistent failure to speak in social settings, but the ability to speak comfortably in more familiar settings.
  • Specific phobias – an irrational fear of a specific object or situation.
  • Medication/substance induced anxiety – anxiety precipitated by drugs or medications.

Related anxiety disorders include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – recurrent and persistent intrusive or unwanted thoughts, urges or images that are experienced and induce anxiety or distress with or without a compulsive act. 
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – unexpected or expected reoccurring, involuntary, and intrusive upsetting memories of a traumatic event.
  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

Anxiety Treatments

One size does not fit all when it comes to anxiety treatment. Overcoming anxiety disorders takes time, dedication, and hard work.

So, how do you deal with anxiety?

Sometimes you will feel worse before you feel better. In general, most anxiety disorders are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

Best Types of Counseling for Anxiety

The goal of therapy is to lower anxiety levels, give peace of mind, and overcome fears.

So, what therapy is best for anxiety?

Top therapy options for anxiety disorders:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Biofeedback
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Hypnosis
  • Online Therapy

Below we’ll breakdown each therapy type to give you a sense of which may be right for you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT changes negative thought patterns and is a widely used therapy for anxiety disorders.

CBT is a powerful therapy type that determines how you feel, react, and perceive situations and helps you identify and challenge negative thoughts while replacing them with realistic thoughts. 

Clinical trials support the use of CBT and it is considered the golden standard of therapy treatment for anxiety disorders. A 2014 study by the Journal of Affective Disorders found that depression is treated just as effectively via remote communications. “From the data compiled, we conclude that ICBT (internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy) is useful in treating mental health and medical illnesses with psychiatric comorbidities. It has also been found to be cost-effective for patients and society.”

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy exposes you to situations or objects that you fear in hopes that repeated exposures will minimize anxiety attributed to the situation or object. Exposure therapy may be done alone or combined with CBT.

Exposure therapy is commonly used when treating phobias.

Complementary Therapy

Complementary therapies refer to additional treatment methods that may help relieve anxiety. Typically they are used in conjunction with CBT but can be used on their own.

An example of a complementary therapy is exercising 30 minutes 3 to 5 times a week.

Exercise causes the release of certain chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Endorphins have been shown to improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. Pairing an exercise plan with CBT is often recommended.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback treatment is a researched based approach in which the patient focuses on their body’s physiological response to anxiety. Meaning they focus on their heart rate, breathing, body temperature, and other common physical associations that coincide with anxiety.

By focusing on these and implementing relaxation techniques to return to a calmer physiological state of being, biofeedback therapy controls the symptoms of an anxiety attack.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are important to practice when you’re experiencing an anxiety attack or a panic attack. In relaxation technique therapy an anxiety patient will learn and practice different methods that help calm them down and deter anxious tendencies.

Some common relaxation techniques include:

  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Deep breathing
  • Visualizations

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is used to teach anxiety patients coping mechanisms to avoid having panic attacks.

While in a state of hypnosis the therapist may direct the patient to focus on how they feel when they’re in a state of panic and teach them certain coping strategies to help calm them when it happens in real life.

Online Therapy

Online therapy is an example of how traditional services are being converted into virtual experiences, available anywhere.

In many cases, anxiety patients can forgo traditional in-person therapy and receive treatment online. This approach to therapy is rapidly growing and can be just as effective as in-person therapy.

If you’d like to try online therapy, just click here. PlushCare makes it simple, convenient, and affordable to seek treatment online with our virtual therapist service..

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

How Do You Find a Therapist for Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, but the good news is that therapy can help you move forward toward a healthy and happy life.

Here are some top tips to find an anxiety counselor: 

  • Ask friends or family for recommendations
  • Ask a primary care physician for a referral
  • Use resources at work or school
  • Use a known therapist as a resource
  • Search online
  • Try online therapy

How Long Does it Take For Therapy to Work For Anxiety?

Each therapy session is different, and the number of sessions needed to get results also varies per person, but according to the American Psychological Association, many people significantly improve within 8-10 therapy sessions. 

How Much Does Anxiety Counseling Cost?

Counseling and therapy costs will vary depending on the practice and type of therapy. On average, a 45-minute to 60-minute therapy session will cost $90.

That said, some health insurance companies cover the cost of therapy, in which case you only pay your copay.

There are also more expensive therapists that may charge hundreds of dollars an hour. Carefully do your research to make sure you can afford the treatment you’re seeking before committing to a therapist.

Affordable Therapy

At PlushCare, we’re proud to offer the best in online therapy. Our services cost $119 per session or $99 for weekly sessions. During your 45-minute online appointment, a trained therapist can offer emotional support and curate a treatment plan that’s right for your needs.

Medication and Counseling for Anxiety 

Medications are often used in combination with therapy to treat anxiety disorders. Anti-anxiety medications can take the edge off so that patients can participate in therapy more effectively.

According to UpToDate medical database, medication therapy is a common and effective treatment option for generalized anxiety disorder.

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety.

Some common prescriptions include:

  • Celexa
  • Lexapro
  • Zoloft
  • Prozac
  • Buspar
  • Elavil
  • Trazodone
  • Cymbalta
  • and more…

At this time, anxiety pills are not available to buy over the counter.


Read: How to Ask Your Doctor For Anxiety Medication


Some prescription anxiety medications have potential for abuse and therefore are classified as controlled substances.

Anxiety medications classified as controlled substances include:

  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Librium
  • Serax
  • and more…

It is illegal to get controlled substances online. You will need to have an in-person appointment with a physician and regular check-ups in order to be prescribed a controlled substance. PlushCare’s online doctors are unable to prescribe controlled substances.

Beta blockers, such as Propranolol, are sometimes used as an approved off-label treatment of anxiety symptoms.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

Get Anxiety Treatment Online

Anxiety can be diagnosed and treated online by PlushCare’s top doctors. Initiating a conversation about getting help for your anxiety symptoms can be intimidating but remember, doctors are here to help you. 

Anxiety treatment is available online through PlushCare. Our doctors can diagnose your anxiety and work with you to create a treatment plan. In general, anxiety treatment involves lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication. Get started with your treatment today. Book an appointment here.

If you’re interested in seeking therapy for your anxiety, just click here. Our online therapists can help you develop the skills to overcome your anxiety and set you up on the right treatment plan. 


Read More About Getting Anxiety Counseling Online


Sources

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2020). Managing stress and anxiety. Accessed September 9, 2020 at https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). National center for health statistics. ICD-10 2e Volume 1. Accessed on September 9, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/2e_volume1_2015.pdf

Craske, M., Bystritsky, A., Stein, M., & Friedman, M. (2020). Approach to treating generalized anxiety disorder in adults. Up to date. Wolters Kluwer. 

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2020). Mental health disorders: Anxiety disorders. Accessed on September 9, 2020 at https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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