Many adults who experience trauma develop fears they may at first try to suppress. But when fears persist, they can cause social and economic barriers for a person, meaning difficulty maintaining relationships and employment. If the problem continues over several months, the individual may need professional medical help.
Different treatments can help patients stabilize the physical and mental effects of anxiety. Apart from medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy, one more option known to be effective is exposure therapy for anxiety.
Get a diagnosis and personalized treatment for anxiety at EZCare Clinic.
What is Exposure Therapy?
Exposure therapy is a psychological treatment designed to help adults overcome their fears in a safe environment and under the psychologist’s guidance. In a more detailed way, exposure therapy for anxiety involves a series of steps designed to help the patient reset and accept facts about the stimuli that elevate fear. It generally involves communication, self-reflection, the practice of objective thinking, and learning to separate fear from reality. The key to successful exposure therapy is taking a friendly and relaxing approach.
It’s possible to conduct this treatment online with virtual meetings if the availability of a high-quality internet connection is not an issue. It should be easy for the patient to download files that include exercise instructions and hear the voice guidance without interruptions.
Another part of treatment is in vivo exposure, in which the patient confronts fears on their own as an assignment by the therapist. The patient then works on confronting stimuli that trigger fears between therapy sessions.
What Types of Anxiety Disorders Does Exposure Therapy Treat?
Exposure therapy can be beneficial for various types of anxiety disorders. It helps to get rid of negative ideas, alienation, and self-doubt. It also helps one to stop exaggerating disturbing events and not being emotionally shaken by these thoughts.
Here are some of the disorders that require anxiety therapy and can be managed with exposure therapy successfully:
- Generalized anxiety disorder. This condition strikes at any age and is characterized by constant worry that is difficult to control.
- Social anxiety disorder. People who fear social encounters may have this condition. They may also fear humiliation for not conforming to group behavior.
- Phobias. These persistent fears of what society commonly consider trivial can grow into larger social problems. If a phobia lasts longer than six months, the individual should seek help from a mental health professional.
- Panic disorder. This condition is characterized by sudden attacks of fear that cause a person to panic and experience mental and physical symptoms, such as raising blood pressure and accelerating heartbeat.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder. When a person displays a consistent pattern of fear from an obsession that leads to repetitive, compulsive behavior, it can indicate they need treatment.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder. If this stage of frequent terrifying memories and flashbacks of the actual event lasts for months or years, an individual should seek treatment that includes trauma-focused psychotherapy and medications.
Consult the EZCare doctor to discuss your symptoms and choose the most suitable treatment options.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
The practice of prolonged exposure (PE) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that involves taking a gradual approach for a patient dealing with traumatic reflections. The death of a loved one or job loss can trigger long-term anxiety that takes time to resolve. This treatment involves getting patients to confront specific matters that are causing depression and anxiety over a period of several weeks or months.
Patients can learn from confronting trauma-related memories not to see them as dangerous. The individual can learn to deal with feelings and scenarios when something triggers traumatic memories through CBT. Instead of avoiding memories, seeing through the illusions of fear can also help patients reduce symptoms of PTSD.
Efficacy of Anxiety Treatment
Studies generally consider medications and psychotherapy equally beneficial for anxiety disorders, but some patients have adverse drug reactions. So it comes down to the individual and their medical history. A Barlow study published in Psychiatric Times found that 86% of exposure therapy participants improved anxiety symptoms.
When people are unable to control their fears, it can affect their physical as well as mental health. To restore good health, they should follow the principles of improving self-esteem, nutrition, and energy. But the key to overcoming anxiety is to examine the issues affecting patients without fear or judgment.
Exposure therapy for anxiety involves breaking patterns of reducing fear and its effects. In some cases, prescription drugs are needed to accompany therapy that involves exercise, discussion, and analysis. Contact us for more information on treatments for anxiety and get a personalized treatment plan.