Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety is familiar to everyone; it is usually a normal, useful and effective response in times of heightened stress, and something which can be understood and resolved. However, some people experience intense and prolonged periods of anxiety, which if left untreated, can develop into a debilitating anxiety disorder. Read information on anxiety causes, types, symptoms and treatment options below.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, panic, worry or unease. It can also be used to describe situations when we feel nervous about an upcoming event or specific issue. Typically, it can be something that has an impact on your day to day life, such as:

  • Moving home

  • Starting a new career

  • Having a baby

  • Being diagnosed with an illness

  • Marriage/divorce

Anxiety isn’t restricted to the above mentioned scenarios. Individuals can also experience anxiety and struggle to relax as a result of worrying about something.

How is anxiety treated?


If you are struggling with anxiety then you should initially talk to your GP for assistance. He or she may offer you counselling or refer you to a specialist for further assessment. This may lead to outpatient treatment, or if your anxiety is deemed as being more serious, day or inpatient treatment at one of our Priory sites may be recommended.

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 Priory can work with you to deal with the symptoms of your anxiety, enable acceptance, and help you to resolve the issues causing the anxiety.

We provide a range of treatments for anxiety, including:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): this looks at thought patterns involved in anxiety, identifies why they've become distorted, then challenges you to think of new ways of looking at your situation
  • Exposure: phobias can be treated with behavioural treatments such as exposure, where a person is reintroduced to an object or situation that they are afraid of, in carefully graded stages
  • Medication: 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 outpatient package


Priory also provides a tailored 1:1 outpatient therapy package for anxiety disorders. Our packages offer certainty of price for a set amount of 1:1 therapy sessions, including dscounted rates. The amount of sessions that we recommend within each package is based on national guidelines.

Find a Priory anxiety centre near you

How long does outpatient anxiety therapy take?

The length of treatment that is recommended for anxiety is not an exact science and varies considerably from person to person according to the type of anxiety that they are experiencing and the severity of their symptoms. However psychological therapy for anxiety is normally offered to outpatients, and usually involves one to two weekly sessions  for approximately six to eight weeks.

When is medication prescribed for  the treatment of anxiety?


Medication is useful in cases of severe anxiety disorder. The most useful drugs in the treatment of anxiety are SSRI anti-depressants – these are non-addictive and their effects are seen after  several weeks. It is important to take a full course of SSRI treatment, which is usually nine months or more.

Beta-blockers, such as Propranolol, are useful in reducing the physical symptoms of anxiety. Therefore, this form of medication can be useful in specific situations, like helping someone to perform or speak in public. Beta-blockers are also used in longer-term anxiety treatment.

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

What types of anxiety are there?

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

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

This form of anxiety is characterised by constant worrying, feeling on edge and being unable to relax, which prevents pleasure in day-to-day life. It can be focused 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

Panic disorder is characterised by repeated, unexpected bouts of severe anxiety which is often accompanied by physical symptoms. It is not uncommon for individuals experiencing a panic attack to initially seek help at Accident and Emergency departments. With time, anxiety becomes more continuous, and the fear of having a panic attack becomes embedded.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is associated with repetitive unwanted thoughts or behaviours which are often related to issues concerning safety, contamination or harm. The behaviours associated with OCD can seem impossible to stop or control, and can become extremely time consuming. 

Social anxiety disorder

This form of anxiety is typified by a debilitating fear that other people will think badly of you. It often has roots in being very shy as a child and can make it hard to develop friendships or a fulfilling social life. It also affects how people perform in public, for example when delivering presentations or speaking in front of other people.

Specific phobia

Phobias are common and involve unrealistic fears of specific objects, situations or events. Examples may include fears of snakes, spiders, flying or heights.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to a persisting anxiety state related to haing had a traumatising experience, perhaps a car crash or difficult childbirth. 

What causes anxiety?

In evolutionary terms, a physical response to a frightening situation releases adrenaline, which prepares your body for action, the so-called 'fight or flight' response. Whilst this helped our ancestors to escape or fight their aggressors, a physical response is rarely necessary in modern society, and the bodily changes that are produced can be unpleasant and may result in an anxiety attack.

Typical causes of anxiety can include:

  • Stress as a result of financial difficulties, relationship problems or issues at work
  • Emotional traumas
  • Side effects from medication
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Diet
  • Childhood experiences


Who gets anxiety? 

We can all suffer from stress and anxiety 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 can I do to avoid anxiety?

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

  • Avoid rushing, trying to do too much, or being too competitive 
  • Allow time for relaxation, hobbies and having fun 
  • Get enough sleep 
  • Exercise regularly 
  • 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?'

Anxiety help for younger people Many of 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 family or carers, community healthcare professionals and schools or colleges to help the young person to 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 for 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.

Get expert help for anxiety from Priory Group

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding Anxiety Treatment , please call 0800 840 3219. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

98% of service users surveyed in acute mental health services reported they were treated with dignity and care