Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney
Treating anxiety disorders requires multiple interventions depending on the type of the anxiety disorder, and of course the severity of the anxiety disorder. At its macro level, there are broadly two approaches to treating anxiety disorders, and the balance of which of those is utilised depends on the type of anxiety disorder, and as I mentioned previously, the severity.
Psychological treatments for anxiety disorders
On the one hand, there are psychological approaches to treating anxiety disorders, of which the most well known, and most researched is what is known as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Drug treatment for anxiety disorders
On the other hand, we of course have pharmacological or medical, or medicine-based approaches to the treatment of anxiety disorders. And there are several medicines that can be prescribed that are quite effective. The trick in all of this is to have a very well thought through professional assessment to work out what is the right treatment approach.
As a general rule, one would start with a more psychologically based approach. And if the individual doesn’t respond to a psychological approach, then one would look to add or substitute a pharmacological or medical approach.
Successful treatment for anxiety disorders
At it’s core though, whether a psychological or pharmacological approach is gonna be successful, particularly on the psychological side of things, depends on the motivation of the individual to adopt a psychological approach. How much they’re prepared to consistently follow through with the sort of exercises that are required, particularly with cognitive behavioural therapy. So there’s no one size fits all. A detailed thorough professional assessment by a psychiatrist or a psychologist is essential to work out the best treatment approach.