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Mental Health

Anxiety: Treatment Overview


Anxiety is something most people experience during their lifetime. Some people suffer from more severe anxiety, referred to as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can be debilitating and often require treatment to manage.

Man laying on couch and having discussion with therapist

Reviewed by the Office of Clinical Evaluation and Policy (OCEP), Evernorth

Anxiety is a normal human emotion. Most people may experience anxiety due to temporary work-related or personal issues. However, experiencing anxiety regularly to the point that it starts to disrupt daily activities could signify a more serious problem.

Almost 20% of adults in the United States live with an anxiety disorder each year. The types of anxiety disorders one can experience include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobias. Living with an anxiety disorder does not have to be debilitating, however.

Several treatments are available to help manage anxiety. The type of anxiety treatment recommended will depend on the condition, severity, and symptoms experienced.


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, involves meeting with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional. With psychotherapy, a mental health professional will help you find ways to cope with your condition through identifying the root causes.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a key form of psychotherapy used to treat people with anxiety. CBT is an effective form of anxiety treatment that teaches different ways of thinking and acting to deal with situations that may trigger anxiety symptoms.

Psychotherapy may be recommended alone or in combination with medication to treat anxiety.


Different types of medications are available to treat anxiety disorders. Some medications may be better for certain types of anxiety disorders, as they may work in different ways. Other factors of treatment with medication should be considered, such as potential side effects, cost, and drug interactions.

Anti-anxiety medications

Anti-anxiety medications can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, including panic, fear, and nervousness. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications that work more quickly than other drugs. However, benzodiazepines can be addictive and should only be used short-term. Examples of benzodiazepines include Xanax® (alprazolam), Ativan® (lorazepam), and Klonopin® (clonazepam).


While antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat depression, they can also be used to treat anxiety disorders. Antidepressants may work in different ways to balance certain neurotransmitters or chemicals in the brain. These medications generally may take several weeks to start providing maximum benefits, and they’re usually prescribed long-term. Certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Lexapro® (escitalopram), and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as Effexor XR® (venlafaxine), are some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants for anxiety.

Alternative anxiety treatments

Alternative treatments may be used to help manage anxiety disorders. For many people, stress can act as a trigger for anxiety. Stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, exercise, and meditation, can help relieve both physical and mental anxiety symptoms. Healthcare providers may recommend these treatments in addition to medication for anxiety.

Support network

Having a support group to share challenges and successes can be helpful for dealing with an anxiety disorder. You may be able to search for support groups online or in person. In many cases, a close family member or friend could also offer support.

Finding the best anxiety treatment

Getting the right anxiety treatment is not always straightforward. You may have to try different strategies to find the treatment that works for you. As treatment can depend on the individual’s overall condition, a treatment that works for someone else may not work for you. For this reason, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider who can determine the most appropriate treatment option.


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