Early treatment can help anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems and can be debilitating if left untreated. Symptoms of anxiety disorders include panic attacks, physical reactions like rapid heartbeat, difficulties breathing, nausea and avoidance behaviour.

There are a number of effective treatments available to people to help manage symptoms of anxiety including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication. Given the prevalence and burden of anxiety, researchers have turned their sights to ways in which anxiety disorders may be prevented from occurring in the first place.

Researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials assessing the effectiveness of preventative psychological and/or educational interventions for anxiety.

Educational interventions involved provision of information about anxiety in the form of lectures and fact sheets.

The psychological interventions focused on techniques designed to change how people think including CBT and interpersonal psychotherapy. The outcomes were the incidence of new cases of anxiety disorders and reduction in anxiety symptoms.

More than 10,000 people were included in the analysis across populations from 11 different countries and ranged from seven to 60 months in duration. The review and analysis found a modest but significant benefit of psychological and/or educational interventions.

Implications

Uncontrolled anxiety can affect quality of life and daily living. Treatment is available so you don’t need to suffer in silence. If you are experience ongoing symptoms, talk to your doctor about what you can do to manage these early on and prevent them from progressing.

Beyondblue has developed useful evidence-based materials on anxiety.

References

Moreno-Peral, P et al. Effectiveness of Psychologcal and/or Educational Interventions in the Prevention of Anxiety: A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis and Meta-regression. JAMA Psychiatry doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2509.