What is an anxiety disorder?

What treatment is available?

Page last updated: May 2007

Anxiety disorders can be very effectively treated. Although each disorder has its own specific characteristics, most respond well to psychological treatments and/or medication.

Treatments combining both psychological therapy and medication often have better long-term results.

Effective treatments for anxiety disorders include the following:

  • Psychological therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), are aimed at changing patterns of thinking, behaviours, and beliefs that may trigger anxiety. Therapy may also involve gradually exposing a person to situations that trigger their anxiety (desensitisation).
  • Anxiety management and relaxation techniques.
  • Anti-depressants play an important role in the treatment of some anxiety disorders as well as treating associated or underlying depression.
  • Anti-anxiety medications that specifically influence the neurotransmitter system in the brain are sometimes useful. Medication will not cure anxiety disorders but can keep symptoms under control while a person receives psychological treatment.
The family and friends of people with anxiety disorders can often feel confused and distressed. Support and education, as well as better community understanding, are an important part of treatment.