Could there be a cure for anxiety just around the corner? This may be the case. Norwegian and British researchers believe they have found a cure for social anxiety disorders.
Science Daily reported that a team of doctors and psychologists from NTNU and the University of Manchester in England examined the effects of structured talk therapy and medication on patients with social anxiety disorders. The study was led by Hans M. Nordahl, a NTNU professor of behavioral medicine.
The accepted method of treating anxiety has usually been a blend of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. These new results, though, which have been published in the journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, make a case that medication is not necessary
Cure for Anxiety – Medications in the Past Haven’t Worked
One reasons that researchers wanted to tackle the issue of anxiety was to really discover what was effective. For years, doctors have prescribed anti-depressants and other related classes of drugs to patients with these type of mood disorders. Although pills have shown results in patients with depressive disorders, according to Nordahl, they can have the opposite effect in individuals with social anxiety disorders.
Instead of fixing their anxiety, the patients use their medications as more of crutch. This isn’t necessarily their fault, either: doctors tell them it will help, and they trust their doctors.
Another issue is that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can have powerful side effects. When patients have been on meds for some time and want to reduce them, they can have symptoms like shivering and dizziness. These can lead to a resurgence in acute social anxiety.
Cure for Anxiety – Solving a Public Health Crisis
Anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed disorder today, especially among millennials. It can interfere with an individuals’ ability to work, study, or engage in everyday situations with others.
Science Daily stated that Cognitive therapy is a treatment where the therapist works to get patients to accept their fear, to go into challenging situations and to shift their attention to what they want to say and do in those situations. In other words: Accept inwardly and focus outwardly. They went on to say that NTNU researchers set up their project to compare recognized methods of anxiety treatment. Over 100 patients participated in their study.
Science Daily broke the study down as follows: The first group of 25 patients received only medication. The second received only therapy. Group three was given a combination of the two options. Group four was given a placebo.
Researchers compared the four groups a year later. The participants in group two, who only received therapy, had the best results. The NTNU researchers noted a 20-25% increase in the recovery rate of patients. According to the project, nearly 85% of the patients either showed substantial improvement or a full recovery without the need for medication.
In Nordahl’s opinion, the NTNU study was one of the best anxiety studies ever. He said it took 10 years to execute it and go over all the results. He was, however, pleased with the outcome and excited about what it could mean for patients with anxiety.
Cure for Anxiety – Using Therapy
According to Science Daily, Nordahl and the rest of the research team have also worked to improve standard cognitive therapy. “We’re using what’s called metacognitive therapy, meaning that we work with patients’ thoughts and their reactions and beliefs about those thoughts. We address their rumination and worry about how they function in social situations. Learning to regulate their attention processes and training with mental tasks are new therapeutic elements with enormous potential for this group of patients.”
Going forward, NTNU researchers want to further refine anxiety treatment and therapies. This means that a cure for anxiety could be somewhere in the near future.
Study taken from: The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)