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  • Natasha J. Thomas, MD

The Anxiety and Panic Series: Effective Strategies for Treating Anxiety

We've made it to Part Five of the Series, and today we're going to review some of the most well-studied approaches to mastering anxiety. Solutions for each of the 9 major types of anxiety will be listed in 2 parts. I'll also list several community, online, and national (or international) resources. There's a lot to cover, so let's jump right in!

Just to review, the 9 major types of anxiety are:

Selective Mutism

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Separation Anxiety

Social Anxiety Disorder

Panic Attacks

Panic Disorder

Specific Phobia


Anxiety from drugs, medicine or medical conditions

If you need a refresher of the anxiety descriptions, just click here.


For all types of anxiety, please consider the following:

  • Get a physical exam to rule out medical causes of anxiety.

  • Keep an anxiety diary to help your doctor find any patterns in your symptoms.

  • Tell your doctor how anxiety impacts your functioning and if it causes you to have suicidal thoughts.

  • Read as many reputable resources about anxiety as you can.

  • Understand that anxiety is almost never acutely dangerous.

  • Seek advice from a doctor on how your family can support you.

  • If you have multiple doctors treating you for various medical conditions, be sure they all communicate.

  • Understand that symptoms may fluctuate, even as you're getting better, and that's ok.

  • Work with a doctor or counselor to figure out what triggers your anxiety.

  • Remember that psychiatrists and counselors may provide treatment over the internet if you live in a remote area.

  • Be open to counseling, medications if appropriate, social support, religious/spiritual support, good diet and physical activity.


*Click the gold links below to visit the resource pages*

Selective Mutism

Many times, those impacted by this type of anxiety will be children.

Here are a few tips to help them:

  • Create gentle opportunities for them to overcome the conflict they feel about speaking. For instance, in ordering food they may desire but are afraid to request.

  • Try not to overreact to them refusing to speak, or celebrate excessively when they do. Both can put pressure on the child.

  • Resist the urge to speak for them.

  • Work with a speech therapist and child psychologist or therapist


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Ultimately, the main goal in GAD is resolving "what if" thinking and staying in the present moment. A therapist can help you learn how to do this through Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

Here are a few other tips:

  • If you feel your mind is overactive and you think too much, set the rule that after 15 minutes of "thinking" you must get up and do a task, anything will do.

  • Sometimes worries grow if we avoid them. Allow yourself to face a scary thought. You'll find that after you ask yourself "what if" long enough, the answer is "everything will eventually be ok."

  • Stay in the moment. If you are worried about an upcoming event or stress, force yourself to think of your present moment, and only the present moment. Listing things you're grateful for helps!


Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can occur in children, teens and adults - though it may look differently based on phase of life.


  • For young children, help them acclimate to school or care with a babysitter by greeting the teacher, other children in the environment, doing a short play or reading activity and then leaving the space. You may slowly decrease the time this exercise takes.

  • Teens with separation anxiety are often afraid to leave home for fear that a family member may get hurt while they're away. Under the guidance of a therapist, teens may attempt brief outings that extend in duration over time, to desensitize the worry. Using techniques like deep breathing, distraction, mindfulness, and positive visualization may help.

  • Adults with separation anxiety also must gradually challenge themselves to time away from loved ones. Typically, in adulthood, separation anxiety manifests as controlling behavior of a person's spouse or children. Practicing "letting go" may be helpful. While loved ones are away, have a plan for healthy distractions, other friends to see, exercise, and activities.


Social Anxiety Disorder

As the most common type of anxiety in America, Social Anxiety Disorder is one that usually requires the helping hands of therapists & psychiatrists for resolution. This summer, I wrote a brief blog post on coping with Social Anxiety. Please visit that blog post here for 5 tips on managing it.


The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety was created to spread awareness and resources to those struggling with Social Anxiety, in memory of the founders' son.

Stay tuned for solutions for:

  • Panic attacks and panic disorder

  • Specific Phobias

  • Agoraphobia

  • Substance/medical-induced anxieties

*This article does not constitute medical advice and should not take the place of an evaluation or treatment by a mental health professional. If you or a loved one is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest ER or reach out to 1.800.273.TALK.

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