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Therapy for Anxiety Disorder

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.

January 14, 2021 Read Time - 6 minutes

Therapy for Anxiety Disorder: Know Your Options

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

Therapy for anxiety disorders includes:

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

Clinical trials support the use of CBT, which is considered the gold standard of therapy treatment for anxiety disorders. Continue reading to find out more about therapy for anxiety disorder.

  • 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.


What Helps Severe Anxiety?

Severe anxiety means that a person feels a sense of escalating and uncontrollable worry. Patients with severe anxiety sometimes have episodic and devastating thoughts about presumed life-threatening illnesses. Sometimes, patients with severe anxiety will have chest pain or shortness of breath.

What helps severe anxiety? Managing symptoms of anxiety is important, but going to therapy helps manage anxiety triggers and gives patients the tools they need to manage severe anxiety.

What Is the First Line of Treatment for Anxiety?

The first line of treatment for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatment. In CBT, the therapist helps the patient identify and correct distorted, maladaptive beliefs. CBT is an evidence-based treatment for psychiatric disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

CBT for Anxiety

CBT uses thought exercises or real experiences to facilitate symptom reduction and improved functioning. This may occur through learning, exposure therapy, or other complimentary therapies. 

CBT is used as the driving force for therapy sessions to reduce anxiety. CBT is a powerful therapy that determines how you feel, react, and perceive situations. In turn, CBT helps you to identify and challenge negative thoughts while replacing them with realistic ones. 

Exposure Therapy for Anxiety

Exposure therapy repeats a stimulus exposure to a person (which usually evokes anxiety), in order to eventually reduce their feelings of anxiety.

In other words, exposure therapy exposes you to situations or objects that you fear, so that repeated exposures will minimize anxiety attributed to the situation or object. Exposure therapy may be done alone or in combination with CBT.

What Kind of Therapy Is Best For Anxiety?

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

What therapy is best for anxiety? CBT changes negative thought patterns and is a widely used therapy for anxiety disorders. Research suggests that CBT is seen as the best kind of therapy for anxiety.

Complementary therapy can be used in conjunction with CBT. Common examples of complementary therapy include:

  • Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and progressive muscle relaxation
  • Biofeedback, which teaches your body how to respond to anxiety and control symptoms using relaxation techniques
  • Hypnosis, which induces deep states of relaxation and is used to help you face fears

Complementary therapy is often done at home. Most complementary therapies involve ways to promote relaxation, thus reducing the feeling of anxiety.

When to See a Therapist for Anxiety

When your daily activities become limited because of anxiety, you may need to seek treatment. Your life should not be put on hold because you are anxious. 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

There is a difference between feeling anxious about a big event or life experience, versus feeling anxious about everyday life. If you feel a continual sense of dread, or that nothing is safe anymore, then you should seek help for your anxiety.

Related: Stress and Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

How Do Therapists Treat Anxiety?

Therapists are licensed professionals who are trained to help patients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, and teach people how to replace them with positive, realistic, life-enhancing ones.

One size does not fit all for anxiety treatment. Overcoming anxiety disorders takes time, dedication, and hard work, and anxiety is typically treated with therapy and sometimes medications. 

During therapy sessions, you may feel worse before you feel better. It takes time to sort out accumulated negative thoughts. Typically, most anxiety disorders are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

How Can I Talk to a Therapist About Anxiety?

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

Be honest when talking to a therapist about anxiety. The more authentic you are about your feelings, the quicker and easier it will be to fix the problem. If you hide your true feelings, it will take longer to get relief from anxiety symptoms.

Therapy sessions are unique and controlled by you. Anxiety counseling techniques include emotional intelligence drills, identifying and dealing with emotions, and using tools to cope with emotions and feelings.

  • 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.


Home Remedies for Anxiety

Natural remedies, or home remedies, are generally safe to use alongside more traditional therapies for anxiety. Always tell your doctor if you are taking supplements or non-prescription medications. Some home remedies help ease anxiety.

You can try these home remedies when you begin to feel anxious: 

  • Go for a walk to clear your mind
  • Exercise (particularly HIIT exercises)
  • Take a relaxing shower or bath
  • Use aromatherapy by diffusing essential oils
  • Practice meditation or relaxation exercises
  • Write in a journal about the way you feel and why
  • Manage your time with a planner or online calendar
  • Take CBD (non-THC) oil
  • Drink hot herbal teas
  • Spend time with animals
  • Color in an adult coloring book
  • Listen to your favorite music

Anxiety treatment is often done with trial and error. You will learn what works best for you to reduce anxiety.

Get Therapy for Anxiety 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 scary, but remember doctors are here to help you. 

Online anxiety counseling is available through PlushCare. Our doctors diagnose your anxiety and work with you to create a treatment plan. Anxiety treatment often involves lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.

Anxiety is a common condition that can get worse over time, if not treated. Do not wait for your anxiety to get better on its own. If you have symptoms of anxiety affecting your daily life, make an appointment with PlushCare to speak with a doctor today. 

Read More About Therapy for Anxiety


PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), American Psychiatric Association, Arlington, VA 2013.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2020). Managing Stress and Anxiety. Accessed December 20, 2020 at

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2020). Mental Health Disorders: Anxiety Disorders. Accessed on December 20, 2020 at What Are Anxiety Disorders. Accessed December 20, 2020 at

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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