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Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety is familiar to everyone, and is usually a normal, useful and effective response in times of heightened stress which can be understood and resolved. However, sometimes events in your personal or work life can cause ongoing anxiety and severe fear or worry. If you are experiencing this, it may be that you are suffering from a severe anxiety disorder. Timely treatment is crucial as it can help from further debilitation of the sufferer's situation.

Anxiety can be tormenting, highly destructive and disabling. It can prevent capable people from achieving their potential at work, in social situations, relationships or as a parent, and lead to intense personal distress. Anxiety is one of the most common reasons for feeling unhappy or unfulfilled, and the seriousness of anxiety disorders is frequently underestimated. Severe anxiety treatment is one of the Priory's specialisations, so please feel free to contact us regarding it, and we will be happy to assist you.

Getting lives back on track-

Anxiety is a broad term for many underlying disorders and phobias, including:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – includes constant worrying, feeling on edge and being unable to relax, which prevents pleasure in day-to-day life. It can be focussed on nearly anything, for example it may be about one’s physical health, upsetting people, or not being good enough at a particular activity.
  • Panic disorder – is characterised by repeated, unexpected bouts of severe anxiety disorder with physical symptoms. It is not an uncommon reason for individuals to initially seek help at Accident and Emergency departments. With time, anxiety becomes more continuous, as a fear of having a panic episode becomes entrenched.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)– causes repetitive unwanted thoughts or behaviours often related to issues concerning safety, contamination or harm. They seem impossible to stop or control, and can become extremely time consuming.
  • Social anxiety disorder – is a debilitating fear of being thought badly of by others. It often has root in being very shy as a child. It can make it hard to develop friendships or a fulfilling social life. It affects how people perform in public, for example when making presentations.
  • Specific phobia – is common and involves unrealistic fears of specific things for example, snakes or spiders, flying or heights.
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)– is a persisting anxiety state related to having had a traumatising experience, perhaps a car or difficult childbirth.

How the Priory can help to treat anxiety disorders?-

If you are struggling with severe anxiety then you should initially talk to your GP for assistance. Effective anxiety treatment can alleviate most, if not all of the distress and disability associated with anxiety and its disorders. If you are feeling debilitated by the condition, it may be a relief to know that our highly experienced consultants and therapists at the Priory can work with you to enable acceptance, or to help you to resolve the issues causing the anxiety.

Mental wellbeing outcome

The Priory are specialists in treating anxiety disorders, providing a range of treatments, such as taking therapy using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Sometimes if the disorder is severe and impacting significantly on daily life, then prescribed medications can be useful alongside CBT.

The most commonly used medications for anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant medication. Most anxieties improve with treatment and the skills learnt in therapy can help later in life when other stressful situations are met. 

Anxiety help for younger people-

Many of the Priory’s hospitals and clinics offer dedicated services for children and young people aged 12 and above (although the Priory Hospital Chelmsford also accepts children from the age of ten).

For younger people who receive treatment for anxiety as an inpatient, we offer a stable and homely environment with facilities exclusively available for younger people to use. Our highly experienced nursing and therapy teams maintain regular contact with the family or carers, community healthcare professionals and schools or colleges to help the young person return to the community when they are well enough. We offer support networks to help families learn more about their loved one’s illness, as well as practical strategies. These strategies can assist in overcoming anxiety.

For those who are under 18 years of age, we also provide a full education programme. This includes a comprehensive range of educational services and accredited on-site assessment facilities to ensure that your child receives continuous educational provision suitable to their needs and abilities.

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding Anxiety Treatment, please call 0845 277 4679. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

Who treats this

Dr Adelqui Villa

Dr Adelqui Villa

Consultant Psychiatrist - Adult

Woodbourne Priory Hospital - Birmingham

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Dr Adrienne Key

Dr Adrienne Key

Consultant Psychiatrist, Lead Clinician for Eating Disorders, Medical Director for Eating Disorders Priory Group - Adult

The Priory Hospital Roehampton - London

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Dr Ahmed Darwish

Dr Ahmed Darwish

Consultant in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

The Priory Hospital Bristol

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Dr Alexander Yellowlees

Dr Alexander Yellowlees

Medical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist - Adult

The Priory Hospital Glasgow

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Dr Andreas Schenk

Dr Andreas Schenk

Consultant - Adult

The Priory Hospital Southampton

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Dr Barbara Rooney

Dr Barbara Rooney

Consultant Psychiatrist - Adult

The Priory Hospital Roehampton - London

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Dr Charles Hindler

Dr Charles Hindler

Consultant Psychiatrist - Adult

The Priory Hospital Hayes Grove

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Dr Claudia Bernat

Dr Claudia Bernat

Consultant Psychiatrist - Adult

The Priory Hospital North London

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Dr Craig Anderson

Dr Craig Anderson

Consultant Psychiatrist - Adult

The Priory Hospital Chelmsford

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Dr David Kingsley

Dr David Kingsley

Lead Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Honorary Research Fellow

The Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal

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Dr David Veale

Dr David Veale

Consultant Psychiatrist - Adult

The Priory Hospital North London

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Dr David Wood

Dr David Wood

Consultant Psychiatrist - Adult

The Priory Hospital Hayes Grove

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Dr Dumindu Witharana

Dr Dumindu Witharana

Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist - Adult

The Priory Hospital Hemel Hempstead

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Dr Eileen Feeney

Dr Eileen Feeney

Consultant Psychiatrist - Adult

The Priory Hospital Woking

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Dr Gary Jackson

Dr Gary Jackson

Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director - Adult

The Priory Hospital Chelmsford

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View the full list of consultants

Why do we get anxiety?

In the natural world, a physical response to a frightening situation releases adrenaline, which prepares your body for action, the so-called 'fight or flight' response. While this helped our ancestors escape or fight their aggressors, in our modern lives a physical response is rarely necessary and the bodily changes produced are unpleasant.

Who gets anxiety?

We can all suffer stress in certain situations, such as the death of a loved one, divorce or overwork. But some people have an anxious personality and can develop anxiety for no obvious reason.

What are the symptoms?

Physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Finding it difficult to breathe
  • A tight chest
  • Shaking
  • Palpitations
  • A dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling sick
  • Loose bowels
  • Urinating frequently
  • Muscle tension
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Hot and cold flushes

Psychological symptoms include fear and worry about a situation, or your physical response to a situation. Sufferers commonly feel: 'I'm losing control', 'I'm having a heart attack', or 'I can't cope'. These thoughts make the physical symptoms worse, creating a vicious circle resulting in states of panic. You may want to avoid all situations that make you nervous, which will seriously affect your lifestyle, even leading to a dependence on alcohol or drugs.

What can I do to avoid anxiety?

There are a number of things that can help you avoid anxiety:

  • Avoid rushing, trying to do too much, or being too competitive
  • Allow time for relaxation, hobbies and having fun
  • Get enough sleep and take regular exercise
  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit your intake of caffeine-based drinks and alcohol
  • Avoid cannabis and other illegal drugs
  • Make a 'problem list' and try and tackle the things on it one by one, rather than allowing yourself to be overwhelmed
  • Ask yourself, 'What's the worst thing that can happen? Is it so bad really?'

How is it treated?

Contacting your GP is often the easiest way to get help and further treatment for anxeity. He or she may offer you counselling or refer you to a specialist for further assessment. This may lead to outpatient treatment or, if more serious, day or inpatient treatment.

If you're worried about talking to your GP, consider writing down your concerns and questions, or take a friend or family member with you.

The type of professional support offered will depend upon the services that are available in your area and the arrangements that your primary care trust (PCT) have with other health authorities or private providers. Treatment for anxiety and stress is also available privately through Priory.

When is medication prescribed?

Medication is useful in cases of severe anxiety disorder, panic disorder and depression. The most useful drugs are SSRI anti-depressants – these are non-addictive and only work after several weeks. It is important to take a full course of treatment, which will be nine months or more. Beta-blockers, such as Propranolol, will reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. This can be useful in specific situations, like helping someone perform or speak in public. They are also used in longer-term treatment.

For the short-term relief of anxiety, anxiolytics such as diazepam can be useful, but these are addictive and aren't recommended for long-term use.

What therapy is used to treat anxiety disorders?
Phobias can be treated with behavioural treatments such as exposure, where a person is reintroduced to an object or situation they are afraid of, in carefully graded stages.

With generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is recommended. It looks at thought patterns involved in anxiety, identifies when they've become distorted, then challenges you to think of new ways of looking at your situation.

Psychological therapy is normally offered to outpatients, and usually involves one to two sessions each week for about six to eight weeks.

99% of service users rated the overall quality of their therapy treatment as good or excellent

Priory Healthcare Quality Account | 2012-2013