Most Common Behavioral Response to Anxiety
The single most common behavioral response to anxiety situations is that of avoidance as this is the easiest and most immediate response. It also feels intuitively correct. Unfortunately, this strategy works in the short-term. Over the long-term, however, it can have a series of negative effects:
  • Unwanted secondary problems
    • Social isolation being withdrawn
    • Loneliness
    • Lack of confidence
    • A belief that you are vulnerable and emotionally easily ‘penetrable’.
  • Serious long-term health problems that untreated will lead to hospitalization.
Anxiety does just not happen in a person’s head – it has very real, terrifying and uncomfortable physical symptoms. Physical symptoms of anxiety vary greatly from person to person. Nonetheless, they are very real, uncomfortable and can be extremely frightening and disturbing. To make matters even worse, if these physical symptoms are left untreated over the long-term, they can led to serious medical conditions - medical conditions such as, peptic ulcers, heart attacks …….. So one of the first issues is that if your physical symptoms to anxiety have been chronic and you have been experiencing them for a while, a treatment program for anxiety, be it professionally designed and managed or self-help directed, needs to address and deal with the physical symptoms associated with anxiety levels and ensure that the long-term negative effects are mitigated. This generally means a medical intervention and some form of drug intervention is required as part of the program if it is to be successful.  Unfortunately, suffers either try to deal with their anxiety symptoms solely through the medical route, or others  completely avoid any medical assistance and the use of drugs, much to their long-term disadvantage. Both these approaches are wrong and ineffective. So in short, avoid and do  manage the physical symptoms of anxiety as part of your treatment for anxiety – avoid managing these physical symptoms over the long-term at your peril. Anxiety Treatment - Integrated Approach Treatment Cone Secondly, the behavioral or feelings elements need to also be addressed as part of your treatment for anxiety. This is especially important for phobic type anxieties and as a supportive intervention to developing other coping methods to the natural and innate response of avoidance of fearful and anxiety provoking situations. Your treatment for anxiety program, needs to contain a component that helps you not to automatically resort to an avoidance response in the face of your anxiety triggers. You also need to support yourself with some help and techniques assist to manage the emotional storm that is set-off when exposed to your anxiety producing triggers Finally, your treatment program for anxiety should address and assist you with the negative thought patterns that accompany your anxiety attacks. This Cognitive Therapy part is probably more important as a treatment component than any other form of feeling therapy as part of your treatment of anxiety. When anxious, you will find that  your mind does funny things and can make your whole life feel ‘grey’ and threatening, largely as a result of the thoughts you hold and the cognitive (thoughts, thinking, thinking strategies, self-talk, etc.) therapeutic interventions developed as part of your treatment program will go a long way to strengthening your life skills in managing your anxiety. So I think of a treatment program for anxiety as needing to be a combind approach that address the these three areas of anxiety manifestation and should comprise both  Cognitive Behavioral Therapeutic (CBT) and a medical or psychiatric component, organized and delivered in an integrated manner. This combind treatment program is needed, especially in severe cases and during the acute phases. Evidence from research indicates that a treatment program that addresses feelings, thoughts and physical symptom management in an integrated way achieves a greater success rate than a single element approach. This means that thought management, self-talk, medication (allopathic, herbal or homeopathic) and therapy or counselling on their own, will have less chance of success than an integrative or amalgamated approach. It is useful to think of anxiety disorder treatment programs in terms of a treatment cone that combines and integrates the three elements of behavior, thoughts and sensations (physiological reactions) into a multi-pronged intervention and self-help program. Each one of these elements can be focused upon separately in term of life-skills and treatment interventions, but for the long-term all three should be simultaneously engaged in an integrated and combined way.