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Expert help for anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are common mental health conditions that can manifest in a variety of ways, reducing an individual’s wellbeing and their ability to function effectively on a day-to-day basis.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental health condition that is characterised by persistent and overwhelming feelings of fear, panic, worry or unease.

It is important to recognise that anxiety and worry are natural, and sometimes useful human emotions, that form part of our evolutionary make-up. However, when these emotions are prolonged, or disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the situation, they can lead to the development of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety treatment

At Priory, we recognise that a person with an anxiety disorder experiences symptoms of a mental health condition that will often require professional help to overcome. It’s important to understand that you don’t have to struggle alone, and that anxiety is treatable; our expert team of psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists are able to offer comprehensive and individually tailored anxiety treatment at our specialist hospitals and wellbeing centres, empowering you to address the causes of your anxiety, tackle your symptoms, and improve your health and wellbeing.

Our highly skilled treatment team have a wealth of clinical expertise and experience in treating anxiety, and are able to deliver a broad range of tried and tested therapeutic techniques to help you to alleviate your anxiety symptoms, and resolve the underlying causes and triggers for your anxiety. Our anxiety treatment specialists are also able to prescribe medication for your anxiety, if this is deemed appropriate for you. Each individual who seeks help for anxiety with us is placed at the centre of their treatment journey, and is involved in all decisions regarding their care. This ensures that you benefit from a truly personalised treatment experience, that produces the best outcomes for you as an individual. Our highly supportive, compassionate and therapeutic treatment environments provide you with the ideal setting in which to address your concerns, and take steps towards achieving a full and sustainable recovery.

It is important to recognise that without expert support, your anxiety may become progressively worse over time and can continue to have a detrimental impact on all areas of your life including your ability to function effectively on a daily basis, your performance at work or school, your relationships with others, and your general health and wellbeing. Therefore, whilst seeking psychological treatment for your anxiety can seem to be an overwhelming prospect, it is the most crucial step that you can take to overcome your anxiety and regain control of your life.

Treatment for anxiety at Priory

For many people, anxiety can be a debilitating condition, but it is important to understand that effective support can alleviate most, if not all, of the distress associated with anxiety and its disorders. At Priory, we are dedicated to providing personalised anxiety treatment and help, empowering you to acquire effective strategies to help you to cope with anxiety, gain increased self-awareness, resolve the issues causing your anxiety and identify triggers before they manifest.

We are able to deliver expert anxiety treatment in an outpatient, day care or inpatient (residential) capacity, depending on your unique needs and the intensity of the support that you require. You can read more about these different treatment options on our approach to mental health treatment page.

In addition, Priory’s national network of specialist hospitals and wellbeing centres mean that we are able to offer you the expert anxiety help that you need in a location that is convenient for you, and in a way that can be flexible around your existing commitments.

Counselling for anxiety

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for anxiety - CBT is a widely-used and highly effective therapeutic technique that is used in the treatment of a broad range of mental health conditions, including anxiety. CBT is based on the premise that anxiety develops and is exacerbated by a series of negative, deeply ingrained thought patterns, that cause individuals to respond to and evaluate situations in unhealthy ways. As such, the aim of CBT is to address the dysfunctional thought processes that underpin your anxiety, examine why they have become distorted and irrational, before challenging you to view situations in new and healthier ways.

    CBT has been found to result in long-lasting benefits and also aims to provide you with effective tools and coping mechanisms, enabling you to recognise dysfunctional thought patterns in the future, respond to these in a more positive way, and continue enhancing your levels of wellbeing long after treatment.
  • Exposure interventions for anxiety - exposure can also be used in the treatment of anxiety and is an effective therapeutic intervention that aims to gradually reintroduce individuals to objects, situations or events that cause them anxiety, in carefully controlled steps. This enables you to gradually confront your anxiety triggers, and reduce the distress that is associated with them. Exposure therapy is particularly useful in the treatment of phobias, a specific form of anxiety.

  • 1:1 therapy for anxiety - 1:1 therapy is a highly effective method of therapy, which is used worldwide in the treatment of anxiety. This form of therapy takes place on an individual basis between yourself and the most appropriate anxiety specialist for your unique requirements, allowing for personalised and comprehensive exploration of your individual concerns. This ensures that your personal needs are addressed thoroughly, in a bespoke and highly supportive manner, in order to produce the most positive post-treatment outcomes.

  • Group therapy for anxiety - as its name suggests, this form of therapy takes place in a group setting, with groups made up of other patients who are experiencing similar issues to you or who have similar diagnoses. The purpose of group therapy is for you to share your experiences with other group members, offer mutual guidance and support, and explore your anxiety in a non-judgemental and highly compassionate setting. Whilst the thought of discussing your mental health concerns with a group of strangers can seem to be daunting at first, research demonstrates that this form of therapy is a useful technique in the treatment of a wide range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, and is highly conducive to fostering positive outcomes and recovery.
  • Family therapy for anxiety - family therapy is a form of therapy that takes place in a group, with your immediate family or loved ones. The aim of family therapy is to facilitate an open and honest conversation about your anxiety, which allows everyone involved to develop an understanding of what anxiety is, recognise the signs and symptoms of anxiety, as well as exploring the impact that the anxiety is having on both you and those who are closest to you. This form of therapy is extremely effective and allows you and your loved ones to put steps in place to better support each other in the future.

Anxiety medication

Medication can also be used to treat anxiety; this is often prescribed alongside CBT and other forms of therapy, in order to complement the therapeutic elements of treatment and act as an additional buffer against anxiety. Medication is usually prescribed when the anxiety disorder is severe and impacting on daily life, and may include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - the most useful drugs in the treatment of anxiety are SSRIs, which are a form of antidepressant medication. These are non-addictive and their effects can be seen after several weeks. It is important to take a full course of SSRI treatment, which is usually 9 months or more
  • Beta-blockers - beta-blockers, such as Propranolol, may be 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 can also be used in longer-term anxiety treatment, if this is deemed appropriate
  • Anxiolytics - 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

Outpatient treatment programme for anxiety

Outpatient anxiety treatment is characterised by you attending a Priory hospital or wellbeing centre to receive a set number of hourly therapy sessions for your anxiety. Outpatient therapy can be flexible according to your work or other commitments and is useful if you require ongoing support for your anxiety, but this isn’t severe enough to require more intensive forms of treatment (such as day care or inpatient treatment). Outpatient therapy can be used as a step-down in intensity from the more rigorous day care and inpatient treatment approaches, if required.

We are also able to offer a tailored anxiety outpatient therapy package, for both adults and children, at our wellbeing centres, which is specifically designed to tackle anxiety disorders. In order to allow peace of mind, our therapy package offers a set amount of one-to-one therapy sessions, certainty of price for initial treatment, discounted rates and a personalised treatment plan.

In addition, we are able to offer day therapy as a step-up in intensity, from our outpatient therapy, if required. Priory’s outpatient therapy package for anxiety disorders consists of eight one-to-one therapy sessions with our anxiety experts, which is the number of sessions that are recommended according to national guidelines. A further discount is also available for any additional therapy sessions that you may require following your initial treatment package.

Day care for anxiety

Anxiety treatment can also be provided on a day care basis, which consists of patients attending one of our Priory hospitals for a certain number of days each week, and taking part in anxiety therapy and treatment. However, these patients do not stay at the hospital overnight, but return home following an intensive day of therapy. Day care may be used as a step-up in intensity from an outpatient treatment programme, or as a step-down in intensity from an inpatient (residential) treatment programme, depending on an individual’s requirements and the level of support that they need for their anxiety. This form of treatment is beneficial for people who do not need intensive 24-hour support, but still require some level of ongoing, structured care.

Inpatient treatment programme for anxiety

Inpatient anxiety treatment is characterised by patients staying at one of our Priory hospitals on a residential basis for a certain length of time, to undergo intensive treatment and therapy for their anxiety. Inpatient treatment is effective in treating more severe anxiety as it provides you with the opportunity to spend some time away from your day-to-day life in order to remove any negative influences that may be contributing to your anxiety. It also provides you with much-needed structure, personalised and evidence-based therapies, and 24-hour monitoring.

At Priory, we understand that residential treatment can seem to be quite daunting at first. However, this form of treatment provides you with the time, care and attention that you need to fully address your anxiety, reduce your symptoms and any associated emotional and physical issues, and take steps towards a strong and lasting recovery.

You can read more about the different treatment options that we offer at Priory, by accessing our approach to mental health treatment page.

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Ed Burns (MBChB, MRCPsych, MSc) in May 2018, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in May 2020. To view all Priory anxiety specialists, please click here.

Understanding anxiety
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Signs and symptoms of anxiety
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Types of anxiety
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What causes anxiety?
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Young people and anxiety
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Self-help tips for dealing with anxiety
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What can I do to reduce my anxiety?
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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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