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Help for Anxiety Disorders

How to Get Help for Anxiety Disorders

If you, or someone you know, has symptoms of anxiety, a visit to the family physician is usually the best place to
start. A physician can help determine whether the symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder, some other medical condition,
or both. Frequently, the next step in getting treatment for an anxiety disorder is referral to a mental health professional
by your Employee Assistance Program

Among the professionals who can help are psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and EAP counselors. An EAP
counselor can help you look for a professional who has specialized training in cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or
behavioral therapy, as appropriate, and who is open to the use of medications, should they be needed.

As stated earlier, psychologists, social workers, and counselors sometimes work closely with a psychiatrist or other
physician, who will prescribe medications when they are required. For some people, group therapy is a helpful part
of treatment.

It's important that you feel comfortable with the therapy that the mental health professional suggests. If this is not
the case, seek help elsewhere. However, if you've been taking medication, it's important not to discontinue it abruptly,
as stated before. Certain drugs have to be tapered off under the supervision of your physician.

Remember, though, that when you find a health care professional that you're satisfied with, the two of you are
working together as a team. Together you will be able to develop a plan to treat your anxiety disorder that may involve
medications, cognitive-behavioral or other talk therapy, or both, as appropriate.

Strategies to Make Treatment More Effective

Many people with anxiety disorders benefit from joining a self-help group and sharing their problems and
achievements with others. Talking with trusted friends or a trusted member of the clergy can also be very helpful, although not a substitute for mental health care. Participating in an Internet chat room may also be of value in sharing concerns
and decreasing a sense of isolation, but any advice received should be viewed with caution.

The family is of great importance in the recovery of a person with an anxiety disorder. Ideally, the family should be
supportive without helping to perpetuate the person's symptoms. If the family tends to trivialize the disorder or
demand improvement without treatment, the affected person will suffer. You may wish to show this article to your
family and enlist their help as educated allies in your fight against your anxiety disorder.

Stress management techniques and meditation may help you to calm yourself and enhance the effects of therapy,
although there is as yet no scientific evidence to support the value of these "wellness" approaches to recovery from
anxiety disorders. There is preliminary evidence that aerobic exercise may be of value, and it is known that caffeine,
illicit drugs, and even some over-the-counter cold medications can aggravate the symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
Check with your physician or pharmacist before taking any additional medicines.

Used with permission from the web site of The National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH)

NIH Publication No. 02-3879
Printed 1994, 1995, 2000; Reprinted 2002.Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.

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For more information or to discuss mental health concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.

In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.

This content was last modified on: 09/24/2008

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